Sarah Dessen is an American author published since 1996 who specializes in writing young adult literature and found great success doing it, becoming a #1 New York Times bestselling.
She is best known for her novels Along for the Ride, The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, and This Lullaby. Two of her books were adapted into the 2003 film How to Deal starring Mandy Moore, and soon Netflix will produce more adaptations.
How to read Sarah Dessen’s Books in Order?
- That Summer (1996) – As far as Haven is concerned, there’s just too much going on. Everything is changing, and she’s not sure where she fits in. Her father is getting married to the local weather woman. Her sister, Ashley, is engaged to a man who’s just…boring. And Haven, at 15, is nearly six feet tall and still growing. Then Ashley’s old boyfriend shows up, sparking memories of the summer when they were all happy and everything was perfect… Or was it?
- Someone Like You (1998) – Best friends for years, quiet Halley and flamboyant Scarlett experience a dramatic role reversal at the beginning of their junior year, during which Scarlett’s boyfriend dies in a freak accident, and soon after, she learns that she is carrying his baby, in a dramatic story of true friendship.
- Keeping the Moon (1999) – Colie expects the worst when she’s sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast-first for being fat and then for being “easy”-Colie has no friends at home and doesn’t expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina. But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Café and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.
- Dreamland (2000) – When Caitlin first meets Rogerson Biscoe, he seems to be everything she wants him to be. He’s handsome, sensitive, and more than a bit mysterious. And before long, Rogerson has cast a spell over Caitlin. A spell that keeps her in a dreamland from which she can’t seem to break free-even when the dreams turn into nightmares. Beautifully crafted, with a vivid plot and sharply drawn characters, this is a powerful and intensely compelling story of a young girl struggling to break free of an abusive relationship.
- This Lullaby (2002) – Remy is a cynic when it comes to love. Let down by her absent musician dad and witness to her mother’s four failed marriages, she doesn’t intend ever to let anyone that close. So when Dexter comes crashing into her life, why is it suddenly so hard for Remy to follow her own rules? He’s everything she hates: messy, disorganised, impulsive, and worst of all, a musician like her absent father…
- The Truth about Forever (2004) – On the outside, Macy Queen is cool and calm. On the inside, she’s breaking. Silently struggling with her Dad’s death, and spending the summer apart from her oh-so-perfect boyfriend, Macy is smiling her way through – she’s ‘fine’. It’s only when she meets a group of new friends – and artistic, sexy Wes catches her eye – she realizes she can wear her heart on her sleeve sometimes. Because life doesn’t stop when someone disappears – and even though she’s lost so much, can Macy see what she has to gain?
- Just Listen (2006) – When she’s modeling, Annabel Greene is the picture of perfection – the girl who has everything. But her real life is far from perfect. Her best friend, Sophie, and she are no longer speaking; her older sister’s eating disorder is affecting everything at home. Then she meets Owen. He’s intense, music-obsessed, and dedicated to always telling the truth. And most of all, he’s determined to make Annabel happy…
- Lock and Key (2008) – Ruby Cooper likes to expect the worst. That way, she’s never disappointed.Abandoned by her mother and forced to leave the house she calls home, Ruby is facing too many changes. Her lonely world has been transformed into a life of luxury by her long lost sister, but all Ruby wants to do is leave – she can make it on her own. Even Nate, the gorgeous boy-next-door can’t seem to change her mind. Will Ruby realize first impressions don’t always count? And that sometimes, people can surprise you, so it’s ok to let the closest ones in . . .
- Along for the Ride (2009) – Auden has always felt like the odd one out. Since her parents’ divorce, she’s shied away, studying lots and staying out of the party scene. But now Auden’s realized there must be something more and, just like that, she changes everything. Moving to her dad’s house opens up a whole new world of beach parties, food fights – and simply having fun. As she gets to know herself – and a secretive boy with dark, brooding eyes – can Auden begin to let go and finally feel like she truly belongs?
- Infinity (novella, 2010) – It’s not her boyfriend Anthony that has her feeling pressured, although he is doing his best to be persuasive where their relationship is concerned, but the roundabout that has her feeling anxious. Maybe its something she has picked up from her mother, a feeling of fear ingrained in her from the incident at the roundabout that left her mother determined to never enter it again, or is it her own sense of guilt for not supporting her mother by also boycotting the circular death trap?
- What Happened to Goodbye (2011) – After the scandal of her mother’s affair, Mclean and her dad chose life on the road. But since losing her family and home Mclean has lost herself too; she’s been Eliza, then Lizbet, then Beth – changing her name as often as she changed towns. Until now. Her neighbor, Dave, is like no one she’s met before. It’s as if she’s always known him, and just like that, she becomes Mclean again. Is it finally time to stop reinventing? Or will Mclean turn her back on the new life she loves, without even saying goodbye…
- The Moon and More (2013) – Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough. Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby. Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby? Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?
- Saint Anything (2015) – Sydney’s handsome, charismatic older brother, Peyton, has always dominated the family, demanding and receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention. And when Peyton’s involvement in a drunk driving episode sends him to jail, Sydney feels increasingly rootless and invisible, worried that her parents are unconcerned about the real victim: the boy Peyton hit and seriously injured. Meanwhile, Sydney becomes friends with the Chathams, a warm, close-knit, eccentric family, and their friendship helps her understand that she is not responsible for Peyton’s mistakes. Once again, the hugely popular Sarah Dessen tells an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.
- Once and for All (2017) – Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.
- The Rest of the Story (2019) – Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was 10. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever. Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family – her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. When Emma arrives at the Lake, and spends more time with her mother’s side of the family, she starts to feel like she is two different people. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her. Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of the Lake – and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.