This Lullaby

As Dessen’s body of work expands, her novels deepen. With its deceptively simple summer romance plot, this book documents adolescent life with perception and acuity…sure to become another favorite of high school readers.

—Voice of Youth Advocates

Contrary to any such implication in the title, this one will keep teens up reading.

—Publishers Weekly, starred review

In Sarah’s Words

Raised by a mother who’s had five husbands, eighteen-year-old Remy believes in short-term, no-commitment relationships until she meets Dexter, a rock band musician.

Okay. So that, in one sentence, is how my publisher sums up This Lullaby, my new novel. It’s funny how someone else is so able to do that. Whenever anyone asks me what any of my books are about I find myself fumbling and mumbling like an idiot before delivering some really long boring explanation that always begins with “Well, it’s about this girl….”. The above sentence is much, much better. Trust me.

There are few things I can tell you about this book. First, I think it’s different from the others. Most of my other narrators are quieter, more introspective types: they hang back watching everything, processing it, and reporting on the drama of their showier, more outgoing friends. (Think Casey in That Summer, Rina in Dreamland, Isabel in Keeping the Moon, that kind of thing.) I was kind of struggling with my writing last winter and one of my friends, trying to help, said something about how maybe I should try something different. “You know,” she said, “you always have these dynamic friends in your books. Maybe you should write from that point of view, just for a change.”

I thought this was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. God, I was NEVER the dynamic friend, I thought, I was a total wall-hugger, like I’d ever know how to do that. I was so annoyed, in fact, that I couldn’t stop thinking about this, and within a few weeks I had something. Just a little germ of an idea, but it was more than I’d been able to come up with in a while. So I sat down, tossed up one of those Oh Well looks that always precedes a novel, and out came Remy. Just like that, I could see her. Hear her. She was kind of bitchy, kind of cold, and was sure she had everything figured out. I couldn’t wait to see her proved wrong.

This Lullaby is also, essentially, a love story. And while I’ve had subplots about relationships and their ups and downs in other books, in this one I really wanted to see if I could take love, and all the crap that goes along with it, and make it the center. Plus it’s a summer book: set in that wonderful stretch from June to August when it just seems like everything is possible. Dreamland, my last book, had been so heavy, so emotional. I was ready for something a little lighter, but that still had something to say.

Basically, this is a story about faith. Faith in love (bear with me here) and just faith in general. Remy’s tragic flaw, of sorts, is that she’s afraid to take a chance on something she can’t guarantee. She wants hard proof, facts, a mathematical equation where X equals Y, before she’ll even begin to think about taking any kind of risk. But what she learns—what we all learn, eventually—is that the living is in the leaping. Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes, and jump.

So. There you have it. Five paragraphs to say what someone else can summarize in a single sentence. (But then again, I always overexplain. It’s my trademark.) What else can you expect in This Lullaby? Well. There’s some songs about potatoes. Diet Coke comes up quite a bit. And oh, yeah, a character from Someone Like You turns up to make a little cameo appearance, a thank you to everyone who has written to ask if I’d ever go back for a sequel. As for the rest, you’ll just have to read the book. And when you do, let me know what you think it’s about.

I’ll be waiting.