Sarah Dessen

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Sarah Dessen
Born Sarah Dessen
(1970-06-06) June 6, 1970 (age 47)
Evanston, Illinois, United States
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Period 1996–present
Genre Realistic fiction
Subject Young adult literature
Children Sasha Clementine

Sarah Dessen (born June 6, 1970) is an American writer who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Sarah Dessen was born in Evanston, Illinois, on June 6, 1970. Dessen was born to Alan and Cynthia Dessen, both professors at the University of North Carolina.[citation needed]

As a teenager, Dessen was very shy and quiet. She became involved with a 21-year-old when she was 15 but cut all contact with him shortly after. She has admitted in an interview that "for many years afterward, I took total blame for everything that happened between me and T. After all, I was a bad kid. I'd did drugs, I lied to my mom. You can't just hang out with a guy and not expect him to get ideas, I told myself. You should have known better. But maybe he should have. When I turned 21, I remember making a point, regularly, to look at teens and ask myself whether I'd want to hang out with them, much less date one. The answer was always a flat, immediate no. They were kids. I was an adult. End of story."[3]

She worked at a children's shoe store when she was in high school at Chapel Hill High School. She was fired during the annual summer sidewalk sale.[citation needed]

Dessen dropped out of Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and later took some classes at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, graduating with highest honors in Creative Writing.[citation needed]


Dessen waitressed at the restaurant Flying Burrito in Chapel Hill while launching her writing career.[4] She would write during the day and waitress at night. Her first book, That Summer, was published in 1996.

Dessen's Along for the Ride made the New York Times Best Sellers List.[5]

Following the publication of Dreamland, Dessen taught at the University of North Carolina[6] and wrote what would later become This Lullaby.[7]

Some of her novels have been among the ALA's "Best Fiction for Young Adults" selections: That Summer (1997), Someone Like You (1999), Keeping the Moon (2000), Dreamland (2001), This Lullaby (2003), Just Listen (2007), and Along for the Ride (2010).[8] Someone Like You was also one of the two winners of the 1999 "School Library Journal Best Book" award, and Keeping the Moon was the sole winner the next year.[9]

In 2017, Dessen was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her novels Dreamland (2001), Keeping the Moon (2000), Just Listen (2007), The Truth About Forever (2004), Along for the Ride (2010), What Happened to Goodbye? (2011), and This Lullaby (2003).[10]

Most of Sarah Dessen’s novels deal with the change in youth’s personality as they go through some sort of tragedy or loss. The general themes that run through her novels comprise isolation, emotional distance among family members, and a progressive change in people’s personality.


Film adaptations[edit]

The 2003 film How to Deal starring Mandy Moore was based on both Someone Like You and That Summer.[11]


  1. ^ "Sarah Dessen". Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Sarah Dessen: Biography". Puffin Books. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
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