Reviews for This Lullaby
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 April 2002
Gr. 8-12. Remy never knew her father, but everyone knows the song he wrote for her, "This Lullaby," a schmaltzy tune with the line, "I will let you down." Well, he did, and Remy expects every boy to do the same thing, so she stays in control of her relationships. When Remy meets Dexter the summer after she graduates from high school, she breaks her cardinal rule: never get involved with a musician. And oh, the horror: irrepressible Dexter makes her care too much. This is a very full book. Remy's fear of commitment juxtaposed against her mother's embracement of life is the main theme, but subplots about a wandering stepdad, a smitten brother, and the affairs of assorted friends also take space. Moreover, the story evolves over a summer--and sometimes reads like every day of it. What's wonderful, however, is that this nuanced book is also a real romance; Dessen, who can turn out terrific prose, gets every feeling, every touch just right. Remy and Dexter (especially Dexter) jump off the pages into the hearts of readers, who will wish for a romance like this of their own. ((Reviewed April 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2002 Fall
Remy's cynical attitude toward relationships has been shaped mainly by her mom's three failed marriages (and the unofficial union with Remy's late father). Yet from the moment gangly, disheveled Dexter hits on this self-described ice-queen, it's obvious he will be the one to defrost her. While the melting happens too gradually in this overlong novel, there's enough to keep readers engaged while it occurs. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2002 #4
Remy's mother writes romance novels, but that isn't the kind of fiction Remy appreciates. Her cynical attitude toward relationships has been shaped mainly by her mom's three failed marriages (not counting the unofficial union with Remy's late father). "People weren't meant to be together forever, regardless of what the songs say" is Remy's credo, and she seems to be sticking with it. Yet from the moment gangly, disheveled Dexter hits on this self-described ice queen, it's obvious he will be the one to defrost her. While the melting happens too gradually in this over-long novel, there's enough to keep readers engaged while it occurs. Dessen is a keen observer of strip mall and mini-mart suburban culture, and her setting details always ring true, down to the extra-large sodas Remy and friends consume in mass quantities and fling at people who piss them off. Sometimes the characters seem more like amalgamations of traits rather than full-fledged individuals: Dexter and his band mates, for example, never really evolve beyond resembling a litter of not-quite-housebroken puppies. But, with Remy's narrative, Dessen puts forth a credible control-freak's-eye view of love and shows why it leaves a lot of rewarding experiences and emotions out of the picture. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2002 April #2
Not every high-school senior gets to plan her mother's fifth wedding the week after graduation, but then, not everybody has a mother who is a famous romance novelist either. Remy is not the average grad heading off to college at Stanford; she's perfectly organized, neat, tidy, on time, and boy-smart, having learned from her mother's experiences that commitments are too risky to take. This summer will be her usual: a receptionist job at Jolie Salon, nightly gatherings with her three girlfriends at the Quik Zip and music clubs, and a temp boyfriend, no strings attached. Mom's #5 is the owner of Don Davis Motors whom she met when she went to buy a new car. Ironically, it was in Don's showroom that Remy met Dexter, the antithesis of her usual guy: clumsy, messy, impetuous, and persistent, but, worst of all, a musician. Despite her own rules about boys, Remy finds herself drawn to Dexter, but her feelings and trust in him crumble when his band, Truth Squad, plays "This Lullaby"-her song, emotional crutch, and the only gift from the father she never knew. Written for her by her hippie, songwriter father, Husband #1, when he disappeared from her life, the now-famous song echoes the sentiment that he-and men-will always let you down. As her mom's latest marriage dissolves in a puddle of deceit, bad cliches, and cans of Ensure, Remy caves in to her own subverted emotions. Remy's voice rings true with realistic dialogue and emotional traumas. Insightful writing, distinctive characters, and a contemporary scene where sex and music rule, compose a melody worth reading. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 May #3
This modern-day romance narrated by a cynical heroine offers a balance of wickedly funny moments and universal teen traumas. High school graduate Remy has some biting commentary about love, including her romance-writer mother's betrothal to a car dealer ("He put one hand on my shoulder, Dad-style, and I tried not to remember all the stepfathers before him that had done the same thing.... They all thought they were permanent, too") and her brother's infatuation with self-improvement guru Jennifer Anne. But when rocker Dexter "crashes" into her life, her resolve to remain unattached starts to crack. Readers will need to hold on to their hats as they accompany Remy on her whirlwind ride, avoiding, circling and finally surrendering to Cupid's arrows. Almost as memorable as her summer romance with a heartwarmingly flawed suitor is the cast of idiosyncratic characters who watch from the sidelines. There's the trio of Remy's faithful girlfriends, all addicted to "Xtra Large Zip" Diet Cokes practical-minded Jess, weepy Lissa, and Chloe, who shares Remy's dark sense of humor as well as Dexter's entourage of fellow band members, as incompetent at managing money as they are at keeping their rental house clean. Those expecting a Cinderella finale for Remy will find a twist consistent with the plot's development. Contrary to any such implication in the title, this one will keep teens up reading. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2002 April
Gr 9 Up-Remy's parents split up before she was born, her boyfriend is cheating on her, and her ever-hopeful mother is about to tie the knot for the fifth time. The teen's wry, humorous voice is the best part of this heartfelt novel, which takes her through the summer before she starts college and, she hopes, a brand-new life; her spirited commentary will keep readers entertained. Remy's father, a musician who died shortly after her birth, left behind a popular song with lyrics that include the line, "I will let you down." It's no surprise, then, that her rules for relationships aim to keep the boys in her life at arm's length. Then she meets Dexter, a scruffy but lovable musician who seems capable of knocking down her carefully constructed defenses as their rocky romance progresses. Remy's relationships with her friends and family are realistic and believable. However, aspects of her past life-a rape followed by a period of promiscuity, drinking, and drug use-are not fleshed out and don't quite ring true. The Remy readers encounter is for the most part mature, organized, and responsible, more so than the adults in her life, and it is not clear when and why she abandoned her self-destructive behavior. On the whole, though, this is a winning story about coming to terms with the fact that loving someone requires a leap of faith, and that a soft landing is never guaranteed.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2002 June
Although eighteen-year-old Remy's father left her mother before she was born and died soon after he went away, his ghost haunts Remy in the form of a hit song he wrote, "This Lullaby." Penned in honor of her birth, the ballad becomes a schmaltzy hit played on lite-rock radio and during father $ND daughter dances at weddings. Remy hates the song and the intimacy it implies; to the obsessively organized Remy, intimacy is something to be avoided. As Remy plans her mother's fifth wedding, she anticipates her freshman year at Stanford where she can finally enjoy the distance she craves. When Remy meets Dexter, lead singer of a traveling rock band, the depth of their relationship threatens to disrupt her strategy for a no-strings summer before her escape to California. 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. Remy, her family, and friends are unique and fully realized characters with complementing story lines. Not one for typecasting, Dessen creates characters with unapologetic faults and no moralizing. Remy and her friends, like many teenagers, occasionally drink, smoke, and ponder sex; however, these activities and musings are not fodder for narrative sermonizing. The decisions the teens make-although real-do not carry with them the obvious repercussions present in a more cautionary tale. With Dessen's sympathy, accuracy, and genuine respect for her characters and readers, this novel is sure to become another favorite of high school readers.-Amy S. Pattee. 5Q 5P J S Copyright 2002 Voya Reviews