Haven is fifteen and her summer is turning out to be rotten. Opening with a view of her mother elbow deep in dirt gardening on the day Haven's father, a local sportscaster, gets married to the weather girl (not so fondly nicknamed "the Weather Pet" by Haven's mother) from his station, things are really not going Haven's way. Not only has her father re-married, but Haven's best friend goes away to camp and changes drastically, her sister's upcoming wedding is turning her into a terrible Bridezilla, and Haven herself feels like a freak thanks to her unusual height. When one of her sister's ex-boyfriends shows up, Haven latches onto him, thinking that the summer when Sumner was around was a golden time in their family. Alternating between her memories of that summer two years ago and the present summer, this is the story of a young girl facing major changes both outside of her control and within herself.
Dessen has nicely captured the pain and humiliation of being fifteen and her portrayal of Haven's longing for a past summer when things looked so much rosier is poignant. Some of the minor characters are a bit over the top though. Haven's sister is a selfish monster and is allowed to be a ridiculous, shrewish brat for a very long time given her age and imminent marriage herself. Haven's best friend turns from good girl to love-struck teen rebel seemingly overnight. And Haven's mother's portrayal as the newly divorced going out on the town without considering her 15 year old daughter struggling to cope with all the changes is a bit far fetched. But despite the stereotypical characterizations of these minor characters, the book will still resonate with teens, especially those who are searching for the person into whom they want to grow. Light and easily read, I can see why Dessen is a recommended read for the late middle school, early high school set. Overall, it's a nice read.