An Ode to Dessen’s Dudes

By Vee (with a tidbit from Tee, since Vee stole Tee’s two fav Dessen guys)

For the love of all that is good and holy, I heart Dessen Week.  I’d like to thank the Universe for one Ms. Sarah Dessen.  Because without Sarah – we’re on a first basis she and I – I wouldn’t be able to write an article  about Dessen’s boys, and really, what would I do then?  Write about The Hunger Games casting?  Well yea, but, then what would I do the rest of the month?  Come on now.

My favorite Dessen boys are artistic (so they’re sensitive and shizz), laid back, sure of who they are.  A perfect contrast to the more high-strung heroine who is generally struggling with issues like self-confidence, self-worth and self-doubt.  It’s good times to be a Dessen boy.  And to date one too.  They are fo sho deep thinkers, and pretty dang funny, in a clever way only a smart guy can be.

Our Fav Dessen Boys…

Wes from The Truth About Forever– Oh, hummuna, hummuna.  Wes, darling Wes.  Wes is like, the Dessen pinnacle of perfection, by which all other Dessen boys will forever be measured, and, as much as I love me some Dexter, Wes is IT.  He is serenity, he is cool, calm, and collected.  In the midst of the chaos of the catering world he and Macy work in, he seems to walk into a room and everything goes still.  Like in slo’ mo’.  Because he’s suffered enough and lived through enough that he pretty much can see that little problems like wine getting spilled on a fancy pants white carpets ain’t no thing but a chickan wing.  And um, he is also pectorally gifted (in my head).  He puts the SAH- in SAH-woooon!!!!

Dexter from This Lullaby– Dextaaaaaahhhhh!  If I saw him walking down the street in Crazytown, that’s exactly how I would say hi to him.  I love me some Dexter.  He appears to be just fun, and carefree, and you gotta love him despite his apparent inability to tie his shoelaces.  For all the smoldery-ness of Wes, Dexter is the comic relief.  He could talk his way out of Hades, if he needed to.  Though he is softer in the chestal area, and doesn’t seem to have a stink eye in him, he is still totally charming and utterly fun to kick it with at the 7-11 while you sip on a Slurpee.  And then, just when you think you have Dex all figured out, he goes and slaps out some major insight into why  you’re so messed up and afraid of love, and you’re all, whoa.  True story.  OK, maybe not true story, but definitely an awesome YA story!

Owen from Just Listen Oh Owen, you look like you’d be this mass of tough guy but really you’re just a kind-hearted  softie just waiting for the right girl.  You lay your cards on the table, let the chips fall where they may and go with what your gut tells you.  Plus, dude, you’re a DJ music man, always walking around with your iPod (ready and willing to share your awesome music insight with the world around you).  I’m gonna be honest.  Dessen had me at iPod.  I love guys who love music (real music, not obnoxious rappy stuff). Also, being tall, studly, dark-haired and pretty hot never hurts.  (Tee)

Honorable Mention:

Bert from The Truth About ForeverWhoa, hold on. I know he’s a gigantor dorkhead. I know he’s crazy obsessed with Armageddon and aliens and goodness knows what else.  I know he can barely put together an acceptable outfit without Kristy’s help.  I know he calls his car the Bertmobile, but for the love of everything holy, can we get Bert some action?  These are all reasons to love him! (Tee)

Ack, good one!  Donneven tell me there is anyone out there who doesn’t love Bert.  I am sure there’s a girl out there in fictional-book-world at an Area 54 Convention who thinks Bert is awesome sauce.  That is one perfect honorable mention.  Shazaam.  (Love, Vee)

Just Listen

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Here’s the scoop:

Annabel has had a tough summer.  She’s done something pretty bad and now her former best friend—the uber popular and totally bishy, Sophie—has desserted her.  Now Annabel has gone from being part of the in-crowd (Gorgeous?  Check.  Cool modeling career? Check.  Popularity? Check.  Would I hate her?  Um, probably.) to being a complete nobody.  To make matters worse, her mom is pushing the whole modeling thing like her life depends on it. Annabel really isn’t interested, but she does it anyway.  She doesn’t stand up for herself at all—not when Sophie is saying terrible things about her, not when her mom is being like one of those terrible Toddlers in Tiaras moms.  She doesn’t say a word.

Now that Annabel sits in the outcast area at lunch, she notices Owen.  He’s a tall, hulking bit of man who is crazy obsessed with music.  Owen keeps to himself, always drowning out the world with his iPod.  As she begins to get to know him, Annabel find that Owen is different from her.  He’s totally open about his issues and his past struggles with anger, and about pretty much everything (though not in an obnoxious, verbal diarrhea way. It’s refreshing).  Through this new friendship,  the truth about Annabel’s life slowly unfolds: her apathy over her modeling career, the frightening and painful reality of her older sister, Whitney’s,  anorexia, and just what happened to make Sophie hate her so much.  Owen, with his commitment to telling the absolute truth,  helps her see that it’s okay to be honest, that life isn’t always picture perfect and that sometimes the best you can do is just be who you are.

As always, Sarah Dessen is able to touch on realistic issues without the topics feeling morbid or depressing.  The big secret of what Annabel has done is nothing too terribly scandalous, but the weight of guilt she feels and the impact it’s had on her so-called friends is told to perfection.  In the long run, it may not be a life-ending incident, but it’s the kind that feels that way when you’re in high school and everything hinges on your friends.  At the same time, the details of Whitney’s physical and emotional deterioration are told with such frank simplicity.  It’s frightening and sad, but Dessen always finds a way to show hope.  In this case, she does so with Annabel’s family (those sisterly bonds that I, as an only child, am so fascinated by) and with her new friend/resident hot guy, Owen.

Owen is the calm in the midst of Annabel’s stormy life; her “friend” issues,  her regrets, her mom’s expectations, and her concerns about Whitney.  There is a real sweetness to their relationship, which develops slowly from a friendship to something more.  Throughout the book, Owen is a solid force surrounding and protecting Annabel.  He’s the first to admit he isn’t perfect, but it’s his weaknesses that have molded him into such a great guy.  Through his anger management meetings he’s learned to tell the truth and to embrace what he loves in life.  It’s this outlook that she tries to share with Annabel.

Crush Intensity: 4/5  It’s Sarah Desseny goodness all the way around.

The Way I See It:

Um, Jake Ryan. Sa-woon

This is totally how I pictured Owen (minus the vest).  Tall, bulky but not fat, dark-haired and cute without being a pretty boy (wow. Do you think I’ve thought about this just a little bit?). I totally think he’d return her undies if he found them because, you know, he’s an honest guy.

I have no other casting because what could top this?