2.5 starsIs it just me, or do Sarah Dessen’s earlier books feel... grittier than the later releases? Well, “gritty” isn’t the right word, I know. Sarah Dessen’s work is realistic, painfully so at times, but not particularly “edgy” or dark, for want of better words. My point is that having read Dessen’s later work first, then backtracking, I was struck by rawness of ‘Someone Like You’ in comparison with say, ‘What Happened To Goodbye”. While I didn’t find the teen pregnancy storyline particularly compelling, or even that invested in the friendship between Scarlett and Halley (which was skilfully handled in typical Dessen style), the Halley/Macon storyline was genuinely unsettling. Not because it pushes any particular boundaries and contains any shocking revelations, but just because it was so realistically rendered that I was squirming in my seat – something I haven’t done while reading a Dessen book. All the while, you’re aware that this is not some sugar-coated, fairytale high school romance, but something much closer to reality for a lot of teenagers. The dynamic here was occasionally disquieting and yet kind of familiar. Although this is not my favourite of her books, bravo to Dessen for choosing to portray a teen relationship so honestly and openly.