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Get Lit: A Ranking of Sarah Dessen Books

If you are a lover of young adult fiction, as I am, then you have probably heard of Sarah Dessen—the QUEEN of young-adult realistic fiction. At this point in time she has released 13 books, all of which I have read (and think you should too). Here is my ranking of Dessen’s novels, with 1 being the best. Enjoy!

13. That Summer  

“It’s funny how one summer can change everything.”

Dessen’s first novel, establishing her brilliance, tells the tale of a pretty average 15-year-old girl with pretty average struggles. Nothing out of the ordinary here.


12. Keeping the Moon

“You should never be surprised when someone treats you with respect, you should expect it.”

After losing some weight, this heroine discovers herself one summer. The narrator’s not particularly likeable, and doesn’t really have anything to make her stand out or pull the reader in.


11. Saint Anything  

“I’d done the right thing. I always did. It just would have been nice if someone noticed.”

Again, the story’s a little basic. An average girl searches for her place in the world while flirting with a cute guy… typical, am I right?


10. What Happened to Goodbye  

“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly where you needed to be.”

This narrator was a little weird to say the least. She continually moved from place to place with her family, and attempted to change her persona each time. Not too basic, just a little too unbelievable.


9. The Moon and More 

“Just because you don’t get your chance right when you want it or expect it doesn’t mean it won’t come. Fate doesn’t punch a time clock or consult a schedule.”

A nice, comforting summer novel, where you root for the narrator to ditch her current bland boyfriend for the new hottie.


8. The Truth About Forever

“For any one of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. You never know for sure, so you’d better make every second count.”

Even though you sometimes want to SCREAM at the narrator for her poor decisions, this is an essential Dessen novel with the perfect formula of a confused teenage girl trying to come to terms with an issue (in this case a dead father) while falling in love.


7. Just Listen  

“A song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in you or the world, that one song stays the same, just like that moment.”

Another classic Dessen story, mixed with an element of music to bring the two main characters together.


6. Once and For All 

“The dead aren’t the only ones who vanish: you, too can disappear in plain sight if enough is taken from you.”

Dessen’s most recent novel, where the main character works in the wedding business, but doesn’t really have a clue about love herself. If you like Say Yes to the Dress, this is a must read.



5. Dreamland 

“It’s so easy to get caught up in what people expect of you. Sometimes, you can just lose yourself.”

Dessen takes a dramatic turn with an abusive boyfriend in this book. Once you start, you literally will not be able to stop reading as you watch the narrator tragically spiral down into an out of control life.


4. This Lullaby  

“You know, when it works, love is pretty amazing. It’s not overrated. There’s a reason for all those love songs.”

Another musical story here, with the most adorable, slightly dorky love interest and the polar opposite—cold, mean, and distant—main character.


3. Lock and Key  

“It’s a lot easier to be lost than found. It’s the reason we’re always searching and rarely discovered– so many locks and not enough keys.”

This book is so much more than a love story, with Ruby’s completely erratic and inattentive mother, the main character holds so much pain in her young heart. (Which makes the book all the more interesting).


2. Along for the Ride  

“An ending was an ending. No matter how many pages of sentences and paragraphs of great stories led up to it, it would always have the last word.”

Over-achiever Auden, headed off to college in a year, is so concerned with problems of her own she doesn’t understand that other people can have big problems too. To me, this book is the most classic Dessen story. A girl goes to a new place in the summer thinking she knows all there is to know about the world until she learns the hard way that things are not exactly what she thought.


  1. Someone Like You 

“Life is an ugly, awful place to not have a best friend.”

THE BEST BOOK SARAH DESSEN HAS WRITTEN (so far). This story has everything you could ask for: friendship, romance, death, drama, and so much more. If you’re going to read any book of hers, read this one. You will not be disappointed! I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t tell anything about the plot on this amazing novel… go read it for yourself!