Discover the 10 Best Sarah Dessen Books 

If you’re looking for an author who skillfully captures the experiences and emotions of young adults, Sarah Dessen should be on your reading list. In this article, we’ll explore who Sarah Dessen is and why her work has made such a positive impact on the young adult genre. Plus, we’ll reveal the best Sarah Dessen books you should read if you’re looking to dive into her compelling and thought-provoking stories.

Discover the 10 Best Sarah Dessen Books 

Who is Sarah Dessen?

Before we talk about Sarah Dessen’s work, let’s start with who she is. Sarah Dessen was born in 1970 in Illinois and grew up in North Carolina. She was the youngest of three children and spent much of her childhood reading and writing. Her parents were both professors, and she grew up surrounded by books and intellectual conversation.

As a teenager, Sarah struggled with anxiety and depression, and she often turned to writing as a way to cope. She attended the University of North Carolina and graduated from there with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. It was during her time at UNC that she began writing and publishing short stories.

A Brief Introduction to the Author

That Summer

After college, Sarah Dessen worked as a waitress and a teacher before becoming a full-time author. Her first novel, “That Summer,” was published in 1996, and she has since written many more acclaimed young adult novels. Her books have been translated into over 30 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide.

In addition to writing, Sarah is also a wife and mother. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. She is an avid reader and enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking and gardening.

The Impact of Sarah Dessen’s Work on Young Adult Literature

So, what makes Sarah Dessen’s novels so special? For one, she has a talent for crafting relatable stories that connect with young adults. Her novels often explore themes like family relationships, personal growth, and the ups and downs of first love. Many readers also appreciate the way she addresses tough topics like mental illness and sexual assault in a realistic but sensitive manner.

But Sarah’s impact on young adult literature goes beyond just her writing. She is also an advocate for literacy and education, and she frequently speaks at schools and libraries about the importance of reading and writing. She has also been a mentor to many aspiring writers, offering advice and encouragement to those who hope to follow in her footsteps.

Overall, Sarah Dessen is a talented writer and a passionate advocate for reading and writing. Her work has touched the lives of millions of readers, and she continues to inspire and entertain with each new novel she writes.

Top Sarah Dessen Books You Must Read

Now that you have an idea of who Sarah Dessen is and what she’s known for, let’s dive into her best books. Here are five must-read Sarah Dessen novels:

The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever

This novel follows Macy, a young girl dealing with grief and the pressures of perfectionism. When she starts working at a catering company, she meets a group of quirky and lovable people who help her learn to embrace imperfection and open up to new experiences.

The Truth About Forever is a heartwarming and relatable story that explores the themes of loss, family, and self-discovery. Macy’s journey towards self-acceptance is both inspiring and emotional, and readers will find themselves rooting for her every step of the way.

Just Listen

Just Listen

Annabel is struggling to fit in with her friends and family, and when she meets Owen, a boy with a gift for listening and understanding, she begins to open up about her own trauma. This novel explores the power of communication and the importance of speaking up about difficult experiences.

Just Listen is a powerful and thought-provoking story that delves into the complexities of teenage life. Sarah Dessen’s ability to capture the nuances of human relationships and emotions is on full display in this novel, making it a must-read for fans of young adult fiction.

Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride

This novel tells the story of Auden, a high-achieving girl who spends the summer with her father and his new family in a beach town. Along the way, she finds love, forms unexpected friendships, and learns to let go of her past and embrace new beginnings.

Along for the Ride is a charming and uplifting story that celebrates the joys of summer and the power of self-discovery. Auden’s journey towards finding herself and her place in the world is both relatable and inspiring, and readers will find themselves swept up in the magic of the seaside town.

This Lullaby

This Lullaby

Remy is a girl who doesn’t believe in love, thanks in part to her mother’s string of failed marriages. But when she meets Dexter, a musician with a different perspective on life, she begins to question her beliefs and open up to the possibility of a real relationship.

This Lullaby is a witty and charming novel that explores the complexities of love and relationships. Sarah Dessen’s ability to create relatable and lovable characters is on full display in this book, making it a must-read for anyone who has ever questioned the power of love.

Saint Anything

Saint Anything

When Sydney’s brother is incarcerated for a hit-and-run accident, her family’s dynamic completely changes. As she navigates her own path and forms new friendships, she starts to question her loyalty to her family and find her own sense of identity.

Saint Anything is a powerful and emotional story that explores the themes of family, loyalty, and self-discovery. Sarah Dessen’s ability to capture the complexities of human relationships is on full display in this novel, making it a must-read for fans of young adult fiction.

Exploring Themes in Sarah Dessen’s Novels

When it comes to young adult literature, few authors are as beloved as Sarah Dessen. With over a dozen novels to her name, Dessen has become known for her relatable characters, heartfelt stories, and exploration of some of life’s biggest questions. While each of her books has its own unique story, her novels often explore some common themes. Here are a few of the most prominent:

Family Dynamics and Relationships

Lock and Key

Many of Sarah Dessen’s novels delve into the complexities of family relationships. From dealing with absent parents to strained sibling bonds, her characters often face challenging dynamics that test their bonds with their loved ones. In The Truth About Forever, protagonist Macy struggles to connect with her distant mother while also grieving the loss of her father. Meanwhile, in Lock and Key, Ruby is forced to live with her estranged sister after their mother abandons them. Through these difficult situations, Dessen’s characters learn to navigate their family dynamics and form stronger connections with those they love.

Self-Discovery and Personal Growth

Young adulthood is a time of immense personal growth and self-discovery, and Sarah Dessen’s novels often reflect this. Her characters are frequently faced with difficult decisions and challenging situations, forcing them to confront their own beliefs, values, and desires. In Just Listen, protagonist Annabel struggles to find her voice and stand up to those who have wronged her. Similarly, in Along for the Ride, Auden must learn to let go of her perfectionism and embrace her true self. Through these journeys, Dessen’s characters emerge stronger and more self-aware.

Love and Friendship

Of course, Sarah Dessen’s novels wouldn’t be complete without a healthy dose of romance! But in addition to exploring first love, her stories also delve into deep friendships and the importance of finding people who truly understand and support you. In This Lullaby, protagonist Remy is fiercely independent but learns to rely on her friends when she needs them most. Similarly, in Saint Anything, Sydney finds solace in a new group of friends after her brother’s incarceration. Through these relationships, Dessen’s characters learn the power of connection and the importance of having a support system.

Overcoming Adversity


Finally, many of Sarah Dessen’s novels deal with tough subjects like mental illness, addiction, and trauma. But while the challenges her characters face can seem daunting, they ultimately learn to overcome these obstacles and find hope and healing. In Someone Like You, Halley must come to terms with the sudden death of her best friend and navigate her own grief. Meanwhile, in Dreamland, protagonist Caitlin must confront the realities of an abusive relationship. Through these struggles, Dessen’s characters learn to find their own strength and resilience.

Overall, Sarah Dessen’s novels offer a poignant and relatable look at the challenges and triumphs of young adulthood. Whether you’re a fan of romance, coming-of-age stories, or simply beautiful writing, there’s something for everyone in her books.

Sarah Dessen’s Writing Style

If you’re looking for a young adult author who can capture the complexities of adolescence with heart, humor, and authenticity, look no further than Sarah Dessen. Her writing style is unique, and her books are beloved by readers of all ages.

Engaging and Relatable Characters

One of Sarah Dessen’s greatest strengths is her ability to create characters that feel like real people. Her protagonists are flawed but lovable, and her supporting characters are always quirky and memorable. Whether it’s the shy, artistic Ruby in Lock and Key, or the determined, independent Auden in Along for the Ride, Dessen’s characters are always multi-dimensional and relatable.

But it’s not just the main characters that shine in Dessen’s novels. Her secondary characters are just as vivid and interesting, from the eccentric but wise Aunt Vix in The Truth About Forever, to the loyal and supportive Cora in This Lullaby. Dessen’s books are populated with characters who feel like old friends, and readers can’t help but become invested in their stories.

Emotional Storytelling

The Moon and More

Sarah Dessen isn’t afraid to tackle tough subjects in her novels, and this means her books can be emotional and heart-wrenching at times. But her writing is always sensitive and thoughtful, and she explores these challenging topics with care and empathy.

In Just Listen, for example, Dessen delves into the aftermath of sexual assault and the importance of speaking up and seeking help. In The Moon and More, she explores the complexities of family relationships and the challenges of finding one’s place in the world. And in This Lullaby, she tackles the universal themes of love and loss, and the power of music to heal a broken heart.

Realistic Dialogue

Keeping the Moon

Finally, Sarah Dessen’s writing is known for its realistic and engaging dialogue. Her characters speak in a way that feels true to life, which only enhances the sense of authenticity in her stories. Whether it’s the banter between friends in Someone Like You, or the heart-to-heart conversations between sisters in Keeping the Moon, Dessen’s dialogue is always sharp, witty, and true to the characters.

Overall, Sarah Dessen’s writing style is a perfect blend of humor, heart, and authenticity. Her books are must-reads for anyone who loves young adult fiction, and her characters will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

The Best Sarah Dessen Books: Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a fan of young adult fiction or just looking for a compelling and emotional read, Sarah Dessen’s novels are well worth your time. From her lovable and relatable characters to her thoughtful and sensitive exploration of tough themes, there’s something for everyone in her books. So why not add one (or all!) of her top novels to your reading list today?


In what genre does Sarah Dessen write?

Sarah Dessen writes young adult literature, specifically in the realistic fiction and romance genres.

What are the best books written by Sarah Dessen?

Sarah Dessen has published brilliant books such as Along for the Ride, The Rest of the Story, Lock and Key, The Truth About Forever, Once and For All, and What Happened to Goodbye.

What awards has Sarah Dessen received?

She has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for a number of her books.

Where is Sarah Dessen from?

She was born in 1970 in Illinois. Now, she lives in North Carolina having moved there for university

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