You YA readers out there know that Sarah Dessen recently came out with a long-awaited new book, Saint Anything. I was privileged enough to beat the library crowd and check it out before anyone else, and I was so happy to see that it fell right in line with the Sarah Dessen books I know and love. It made me immediately want to start rereading her old works (I’m currently rereading my favorite Dessen title Just Listen, if you really want to know).
But, admittedly, I came to the Sarah Dessen game late. I only began reading her books maybe 5 years ago, and started following her blog almost immediately before she stopped writing it. So to assume you know the brilliance of Sarah Dessen, even if you are a strong reader of YA titles, might be a mistake.
In case you need any convincing, here are five reasons that you should love Sarah Dessen:
1. She seems genuinely nice
Ok, it seems weird to start out a list talking about the personal attributes of someone I don’t know. But seriously, at least on Twitter (and through every single thing I’ve heard through librarians and readers who have met her), she seems so likable. In fact, I followed her on Twitter after a friend of mine tweeted (and this is a paraphrase) @sarahdessen is the most adorable person on Twitter! And she’s right. Even though our tastes don’t always converge (for example, she was a superfan of Good Morning America for years, something I simply can’t care about), she is so clearly genuine about what she loves, that it makes me love reading her gush.
2. Her books are extremely comforting
To describe the tone of her books, I would say something like “a modern-day Sweet Valley High.” Not that she writes about identical twins, but that she rides the line between sweet and edgy extremely well. Her characters deal with real issues, such as death, anorexia, and prison, all from an extremely caring way.
3. She’s been there
In 2013, Dessen wrote to her fans about drug problems she had in her younger days. I feel like this was surprising for many, as she seems to have such an ideal and cheerful life, so I was extremely happy that her confession was met with support and love. Bustle put it best in their post YA Author Sarah Dessen Reveals Past Drug Problem, and It Just Makes Us Love Her More.
4. She’s honest
I love that on her website, she shares insights on where the inspirations for her books come from. I love that she talks on Twitter about the challenges of balancing writing and having a daughter. And I love that she was honest with her audience about needing to take a break from her writing when a book simply wasn’t working out.
5. The writing
And finally, she’s simply wonderful at bringing you into a character’s mind, or into a community’s setting, and making you want to live there. Even when the character is having a hard time, even when it seems like the community is less than ideal, she makes it so you want to go back again and again.