Mclean Sweet is a senior in high school with a lot of history. She has been moving around with her father for the last few years and been the new girl several times after her parent’s brutal divorce. With each new town she becomes a different person, Eliza the popular girl, Lizbeth the drama mama, and Beth the all around joiner. Her arrival to Lakeview leads to her being Mclean once again, but not by choice. This bunch of friends is different from the others she had left without even a goodbye, they found her and never let go. A boy genius trying to reclaim his teen years, Dave, a girl who was never accepted as the new girl, Deb, and even the stereotypical girl high school girl obsessed with clothes and boys, Heather, are just a few of the people she encounters in this quirky town. This is the first time she can be herself, who ever that is. With this group Mclean starts to re-evaluate her relationships with everyone: Dave, her mother, and even herself.
Mclean’s relationships are the driving force in the novel. The mother-daughter dynamic is something that most everyone can relate to; it is full of resentment and tension. Her mother’s mistake is what led to the demise of the marriage and almost completely wrecking her relationship with Mclean. The love connection takes time to develop between Mclean and Dave, but every step closer they get brings new challenges for Mclean to face within herself, as each relationship does in real life. With the evolution of all the relationships it becomes clear that Mclean has been hiding emotions from herself and it’s time to come clean.
Sarah Dessen brings the world of teen lit another great novel. The ease of reading the novel brings the feeling of knowing the characters on a personal level. The connections she makes to previous novels are subtle, like in all her other novels, with the appearance of Heidi and the beach town of Colby. At the close of the novel, Dessen ties it all in a nice bow, without being too cliché about it.