This Lullaby

Hardcover | May 27, 2002

bySarah Dessen

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A New York Times bestseller
 
She’s got it all figured out.
 
Or does she? When it comes to relationships, Remy’s got a whole set of rules.
 
Never get too serious. Never let him break your heart. And never, ever date a musician.
 
But then Remy meets Dexter, and the rules don’t seem to apply anymore.
 
Could it be that she’s starting to understand what all those love songs are about?
 
“Remy and Dexter jump off the pages into the hearts of readers, who will wish for a romance like this of their own.” —Booklist
 
Also by Sarah Dessen:
Along for the Ride
Dreamland
Just Listen
Keeping the Moon
Lock and Key
The Moon and More
Someone Like You
That Summer
The Truth About Forever
What Happened to Goodbye

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From the Publisher

A New York Times bestseller She’s got it all figured out. Or does she? When it comes to relationships, Remy’s got a whole set of rules. Never get too serious. Never let him break your heart. And never, ever date a musician. But then Remy meets Dexter, and the rules don’t seem to apply anymore. Could it be that she’s starting to underst...

Sarah Dessen is one of the most popular writers for young adults. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews, and have sold more than nine million copies. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine. Visit...

other books by Sarah Dessen

Once And For All
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see all books by Sarah Dessen
Format:HardcoverPublished:May 27, 2002Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0670035300

ISBN - 13:9780670035304

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

Customer Reviews of This Lullaby

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, But A Little Disappointing Not as good as many of the other novels by Sarah Dessen, but still an interesting light read.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from it was ok... It was an o.k. book. I thought this book would be pretty much a love story between Dexter and Remy....and well didn't seem like that to me. Everyone was telling what a great book this is and I was excited when I bought it but felt disappointed after reading it. I didn't like the characters....Remy was so selfish she just wanted to be only for herself.... and never thought about the others when it come to feelings she just cared for her own feelings.... Her friends on the other hand...I would like to see more about Jess' life... it's seems more complicated than Remy's.... Lissa is the typical teenage girl.... Dexter is the total opposite of Remy... He is funny... he lives for the present not just sitting around and watching others living their lives.... he lives his life to the fullness. I admire her mother though, even if she has been hurt so many times she still believes that all these things (love) were worth going for.... So, this book to me, it wasn’t the love story I expected... it was a well written book though talking about our lives and that we should live our lives at the fullness because we just have one life and it is better to live it ,even if we get hurt, rather than staying in the shadows... Because in the end we will be able to look back and say that we grabbed every opportunity it was given to us.... So yeah it was a good book but don't expect a big love story.... not like that... anyway I think it's worth reading it because of the message this book gives....and I will probably try another book of hers cause I really like the way she writes.
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good It was good, but I found I enjoyed other books written by Sarah Dessen more.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top pick I love this book so much I have reread it at least 10 times.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but not great i think its a good book just is not one of my favourites. I did enjoy the novel it just didn't make me feel great like just listen and lock and key did. I do recommend it cause the book is truly amazing and the plot and deep pain Remy suffered, but dexter helped her which I love.
Date published: 2015-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Sarah Dessen book Remy was just what I was looking for in a main character. Most storys have the main character being shy, and passive. Almost always a virgin, living in their friends shadows, but not Remy. Remy is the type of person you would want to be, she stands up for herself, she has a crazy side, and most importantly she wants to be independent. There is more to Remy then just who she is dating, as a 16 year old girl, I highly recommend reading!
Date published: 2015-04-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from This Lullaby A good read!
Date published: 2014-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Lullaby This is, in my humble opinion, one of Sarah Dessen's best books. Remy is flawed but likeable, Dexter is a loveable goof, and the plot twists are well thought out. All in all, This Lullaby is an excellent book that's worth the read.
Date published: 2014-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This lullaby Good great .
Date published: 2013-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Adorable You will surely fall in love with this story. You will get wrapped up in Remy and Dexter, totally engulfed. I personally imagined myself in Remy's position and I was in love with the charcter, Dexter. If you are a sucker for a love story, don't waste time any time, go pick it up.
Date published: 2012-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My All Time Favorite Book I read this book for the first time many years ago, and it is still my favorite. I have read it over and over again, and never get tired of it. Remy is a girl who plans out relationships and likes to be in control. When Dexter, who is not Remy's usual type of guy, comes along and Remy starts feeling things she has never felt before, she has to decide if rules and being control are always right or if sometimes you just have to let go and let life happen.
Date published: 2012-07-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from http://frosybookreviews.blogspot.com/2010/12/this-lullaby-book-review.html The story fallows Remy and her rules about romance which she doesn’t believe that exist. She thinks love only happens in fairy tales and will go all the way to prove it to Dexter. She doesn’t do relationships but somehow she can’t seem to dump Dexter. After a lot of events in her life and a very open mind conversation with her mother she realises that love is always there, you just need to find the right one for you. And you won’t find if you don’t try at all. It was an o.k. book. I thought this book would be pretty much a love story between Dexter and Remy....and well didn't seem like that to me. Everyone was telling what a great book this is and I was excited when I bought it but felt disappointed after reading it. I didn't like the characters....Remy was so selfish she just wanted to be only for herself.... and never thought about the others when it come to feelings she just cared for her own feelings.... Her friends on the other hand...I would like to see more about Jess' life... it's seems more complicated than Remy's.... Lissa is the typical teenage girl.... Dexter is the total opposite of Remy... He is funny... he lives for the present not just sitting around and watching others living their lives.... he lives his life to the fullness. I admire her mother though, even if she has been hurt so many times she still believes that all these things (love) were worth going for.... So, this book to me, it wasn’t the love story I expected... it was a well written book though talking about our lives and that we should live our lives at the fullness because we just have one life and it is better to live it ,even if we get hurt, rather than staying in the shadows... Because in the end we will be able to look back and say that we grabbed every opportunity it was given to us.... So yeah it was a good book but don't expect a big love story.... not like that... anyway I think it's worth reading it because of the message this book gives....and I will probably try another book of hers cause I really like the way she writes.(
Date published: 2011-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice, light reading This was my first Sarah Dessen book and I have to say I really enjoyed it! After all, it is summer and I wanted to read something very light and nice and this was exactly what I was looking for. I enjoyed the characters, but especially how they all worked together despite of their differences. Remy was a great leading female character and her girl friends were simply priceless, all in their own specific way. Loved that. I also really liked Remy's brother. Dexter was a nice character, very carefree, unlike Remy. I'm a little like Remy, I like to have everything under control no matter what it is and when I am not in control I feel insecure. The book was great, but the only reason I'm not giving it five stars is because the end, I felt, was very predictable. This can be attributed to the fact that I think like Remy, but it might just have been... well predictable. So, great book, I definitely recommand it if you're in the mood for a light reading for summer.
Date published: 2011-07-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Teen Reading! For years I've heard rave reviews from girls about Sarah Dessen's novels, and have always known I'd pick one up eventually. That being said, I was still pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Being more than a little past my teenage years, I still found that this novel was relatable, the characters were 3 dimensional, and felt pulled in emotionally to the story. I highly recommend this novel for Teens, it's a realistic story, without being overly sappy in dialogue or too filled with teenaged angst. It does have language, and sexual references though, so definitely not for Tweens. It's nice every now and then to be reminded of what it was like being a teen and trying to discover who you are. It was both a simple and complicated time.
Date published: 2011-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Lullaby is this chicks favourite This is the first book of hers that i read. It was like nothing I had read before. Great for going from young tween reading and even other teen books to something more emotional and real. I recommend this to be the first of hers that anyone reads. It was the most fantastic and emotional book I have read to date, and I have read many books. Its all about opening up and stopping yourself from having complete control over everything and just letting life be. Dexter was a whole new type of guy for me. His life theory of embracing the mess was both funny and relaxing. He makes us thinking about how many plan for tomorrow and end up losing today. Of course this book does have real emotional content and some sexual reference so don't hand it over to your 12 year old daughter. Its a great read for any girl over 14
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sarah Dessen is a great author Sarah Dessen definitely knows how to write a book. This has become one of my favourite books to read over and over again. The main character Remy is someone easy to understand and sympathize with, though some times you may want to tell her that she's wrong, just as a friend might. I really love this book, and I'm sure you will too.
Date published: 2011-04-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Realistic Love Story I think the best thing about Dessen novels is the fact that she write about the reality of romance. Love has its ups... and its downs. I think too many authors focus on the ups without writing about realistic downs. In this novel, it was completely personal challenges that the main character had to face before she could open her heart to a real long term relationship. The best part of the story? It could have actually happened. It was completely realistic and hopeful for any young women with the same feelings towards love.
Date published: 2010-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from E X C E L L E N T ! This was the first Sarah Dessen book I read, and the book that got me so interested in Sarah Dessen. This was a fabulous book. It was a real page-turner. Most books, say, the 40-th page it gets interesting, but this one, by page 5 your readin' away. I highly recommend this book, its such a great teen book, mostly for girls. But what I noticed, is that, it's such a normal book. It could easily happen to any of us. You not beleiving in Love, Him thinking he was in love by first glance. It's so typical, but the way Sarah Dessen wrote it is so, so, so inspirational. Your crazy if you don't love this book!
Date published: 2010-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hate Spinnerbait...Love this Book! You will absolutely fall in love with this book! Dexter is a very vibrant character. I really enjoyed his whole goofy, laid back attitude. Remy, whose mom has been married 4 times, does not believe in love or long-termed relationships. This all changes once she meets Dexter and her causes her to change her views. There was great back and forth of dialogue between Dexter and Remy. You can slowly see Remy falling for him. This story will make you believe in love at first sight. Fun summertime romance. Great Read!
Date published: 2010-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Great! XP This Lullaby was so good. i couldn't put it down, like any other sarah dessen novel! i was so... intrigued/interested to see how it would end with dexter and remy. the whole book was suspense. and i know how everyone loves and hates suspense at the same time! XP thus i believe that this book shall be recommended to everyone. XD
Date published: 2009-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this! This is the kind of Dessen that I love. I didn't enjoy the last book I've read of hers "That Summer" but I adored this book. It had the elements that I loved and made we wish we could get a movie out of this one. Remy is really a by-product of her Mother's instability and neediness along with a father who never is around and a string of 'stepfathers' that come and go with the seasons. This seems to often be a trend in Dessen's writing and I never find it gets boring nor repetitive. She always manages to twist it a bit to make it original. Remy's got some strong control issues and is definitely OCD. For her whole life she's worked at being able to escape her Mother and go to college far away. With her senior year over she's not got to over come one last summer before she heads to Stanford. When it comes to boys Remy has a system that ensures her heart will never get broken and that she won't take the sort of risks that her Mother do. She's learned that love doesn't last and that men specifically don't stay for the long haul. Until Dexter pushes his way into her life. I enjoy the real aspects that Dessen deals with. I like how her family's are never perfect and yet they always manage to show personal growth that always seems entirely possible. However, despite abandonment issues and various other heavy content she never drags the book down. Never does it seem hopeless or a really depressing read. There's that silver lining and even if it takes a while for the characters to hit that growth you can see it slowly sprouting. This was a really enjoyable read. Heart breaking to think that there are people out there that truly believe opening yourself up with inevitably cause pain and it was heart breaking to see Remy experience that first tingle of love but so scared of something that can be so wonderful.
Date published: 2009-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Great book! It was different than some of her other books and it was funny! Dexter and Remy make the perfect couple in the novel and balance each other well. This is a definite must-read!
Date published: 2009-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I've read it 50 times, I know I'll read it 50 more This was my first Sarah Desson book and while I’m still shy of two to have have read all of her books, this is still my favourite. It is very different from her other books and for that reason it is my favourite. Remy, the main character, is almost cynical and beautiful and slightly damaged and yet I completely related to her. Desson goes in a different direction than her other heroines. This time Desson presents a main character that’s not shy or recovering from a traumatic event, she’s not anti-social or the underdog. Remy is strong. Remy’s not imminently likable, she’s frustrating and you’re pulled into her story because you want her to open up and just breathe. Dexter, is the most amazing character I’ve ever read, I fell for him, he’s just living each moment to the fullest and he wants to show Remy that’s okay to let someone get close. Remy and Dexter’s chemistry is remarkable, every scene they have together makes you drink up the words because they’re clever and sexy and you fall for them. This is the perfect summer read, it takes place during the summer before college so it deals with changes and saying your goodbyes and just holding on one second longer. I recommend it to everyone. It about letting yourself fall in love and just wonderful that is.
Date published: 2009-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My new favourite :) Omigod!! I've read like 5 of Sarah Dessen's books and so far this is my favourite it's so relateable and even if you havent been in a realationship, you can still somehow relate. Its a really touching story I suggest that anyone over the age of 11 or 12 can read this book. its amazing! ilove Dexter :) i love his characteristics! Anyways its a really good book. EVERYONE MUST READ IT
Date published: 2009-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pretty Good This book was a good story, and I found at points you could easily relate to the characters. Remy and Dexter were a great couple. I definately reccomend this book to girls of any age. This fun book will keep you turning page after page until your done!
Date published: 2009-03-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well... .....Its not my favorite Sarah Dessen novel but it was pretty good. I found myself drifting throughout the novel and loosing focus quite a bit. Im glad it wasn't my first Sarah Dessen novel because I may not have been so eager to read more of her books if it had been. I like how all her books are connected, some characters are even mentioned in numerous books. Overall she's is great author and I highly recommend any of the Sarah Dessen novels I have read. :)
Date published: 2009-03-16
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing As a big fan of Sarah Dessen, I was expecting something as amazing as her other books, and was VERY disappointed. I found it very boring, it just dragged and dragged on and I couldn't relate to Remy at all. (I have to admit I loved Dexter though <3) I kept reading, telling myself it would get better, but it didn't and I was left disappointed with the ending and the book in general.
Date published: 2009-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly inspirational♥ The first book I read was Dreamland by this author and ever since i have been totally obsessed with this author(Sarah Dessen). She just has an amazing talent that she can tap into other peoples lives. She can dig beneath us, and know how teenagers really feel. I was soo suprised , by reading this book and her others she practically let me know that i was who I was and i should appreciate it and I should be appreciated as a person. To let go of all the people i loved but who hurt me. To get over them and continue on in life. Knowing that theres always another person your gonna meet and live the rest of your life with. She is truly inspirational. Sometimes we just have to walk away.♥Even from the ones we love.
Date published: 2008-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOOOOVE THIS BOOK this lullaby was the best book ive ever read by sarah dessen. dexter and remy are my favourite couple. i reccomend it to anyone! its the best book ever!
Date published: 2008-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome This book was apsolutely awesome, I loved it, it only took me about 2 hours too read it, i just couldn't put it down. "This Lullaby" is perfect for any ages.
Date published: 2008-01-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but not her best. I liked this book but I liked both Just Listen and Truth About Forever a lot better - but this one is still worth the money. Remy's mom is just about to get married for the fourth time, and that doesn't include the highly illegal union with Remy's dad, whom she's never met. So Remy is pretty cynical about love and breaks up with guys every 6 weeks or so - as soon as they start to get a little annoying or clingy. She was seriously the drunk girl who has a one night stand girl for a long time.Then Remy meets Dexter who breaks all her rules - he's a musician, he's chasing her, and not a normal guy, and she isn't sleeping with him right away. Will he change Remy's mind about love? Some of the content makes this for a bit older teens than some of Dessen's others.
Date published: 2007-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THE BEST BOOK EVER :) this book is absolutly fantastic. i loved it. i read it when i was on vacation in florida and i could not put it down, i spent the entire day reading by the pool. that's how great it is. this book is like my favorite, i love everything by sarah dessen and i can't wait until her next book comes out. you should read this book, it's great :) <3
Date published: 2007-07-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was pretty good i dont get why she is well known for this books. It was good, I've read better and ive read worse but this isnt her best one. I liked her other ones more
Date published: 2007-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books I've read "This Lullaby" is honestly one of the most insightful books I've read... and the best book I've ever read my whole life. I was originally going to buy "The Truth About Forever" (which is also written by Sarah Dessen", but Coles didn't have it so it was either This Lullaby or the Au Pairs (but the thing is I needed a novel for school.). Anyways, when I read this book, I eventually liked it right away and wouldn't want to put it down. Although I didn't like Remy's attitude towards dating and her standards (everybody has standards, but hers were different), but I loved how she forgot about them when she met Dexter. Dexter is probably my favourite character in the book, I like the games and challenges he plays with Remy with his friends and I thought that it was really funny how he introduced himself (sort of) to Remy in the beginning of the book. Sarah Dessen did a really good job writing "This Lullaby" and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.
Date published: 2006-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What an awesome book!! Omg, this book was really awesome. Like many of the people before me, the characters were very realistic and the emotions the characters felt struck home at times. It was extremely well written and I enjoyed it so much that I stayed up all night reading it, after I started it at nine thirty that night. I finished at twelve. But I just loved it so much. At times I wanted to kick Remy, and I was soo happy when in the end she ends up with Dexter, because I really hated her attitude. Just like someone else who reviewed said, it made me want to run out and find my 'Dexter' because he was such a loveable character. I love this book and would love to buy it. I've already recomended it to a couple of my friends, describing is as: very sweet and a very romantic story!! So two thumbs waaay up to Sarah Dessen, for writing such an enjoyable novel!! :)
Date published: 2006-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greatest book ever written This book really knows what it's like to be a teenager. From part-time jobs, to friends, to boyfriends and summer flings. It encompases it all, including the relationship between Remy (the main character) and Dexter, the boy living with his bandmates, moving from place to place, trying to land a record deal. Remy thinks that she can escape him, but Dexter never gives up, and neither does fate. This book plays with your heart, making you feel such hatred, annoyance, sympathy and love. It makes such a deep, emotional connection. I, myself, never cry, even at a death, but this story, so well written, had me blubbering in the middle of my pre-calculus class. No story has ever affected me so much, and I highly and fully doubt that another one ever will. Even my little sister, who never reads any books, took the time to read this one. I recommend this book to anyone looking in the teen section at this store, and even some of the adults. If you can read, then this is the book that you should be reading, no matter your age.
Date published: 2006-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a little bit of magic I actually own this book (didnt just borrow it from the library) and it is the best book ever. My own copy is so worn out from lending it to friends and they too all agree that it is amazing. By the end of the book I felt like going out in search of someone just like Dexter. This book is a MUST read!
Date published: 2006-06-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good Throughout the course of the story, Dessen enables her readers to get to know, and like each of the main characters, making it possible to relate to each one. Remy undergoes the changes and growth each person hopes to achieve, learning more about the others around her, and more importantly herself. You will wish Remy and Dexter's story will never end.
Date published: 2006-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I actually just finished this book and i absolutely adored it i honestly never ever wanted it to end dexter and remy really did have great chemistry and I loved dexter so much!! i think many teenage girls can relate to Remy i know i can. She took a shot on love and everything worked out. Absolutely AMAZING im looking forward to reading another Sarah Dessen book.
Date published: 2006-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome!! There is a reason there are 8 reviews here with 5/5 ratings - this book is amazing and yes, you will fall in love with Dexter!!!! I've read this book many times and I never get tired of it.
Date published: 2005-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow. * sighs * Omg, everyone should read this book, it's so beautifully written and meaningful! it made me want to find remy and congratulate her on getting the most wonderfully adoring boyfriend ever! The book was soooooooo romantic. Even sporty-ish girls should read this, its not just for girly-girls. When I finished it, I felt alive and my heart kinda filled with warmth. (dont ask me why, but you'll feel it too) I've read almost everone of sarah dessen's books and i really want to read them and read them until the day i die. They are sooooo good.
Date published: 2005-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from too good to be true. literally and uterlly the one of the best books in the sarah dessen collection. i took a long time to fininsh this book only because i wanted to read it forever! its the kind of book you cant put down and cant wait to finish, but also the kind of book that makes you want to read it your whole life. like all her books, it should be made a movie. dexter seems just perfect.
Date published: 2005-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from SOOOO GOOD! Oh my goodness! This is probably my favourite book of ALL time. I've read all of Sarah Dessen's books, but this one is my favourite! I love it so much. It deals with a lot of different problems and it has a good resolution, too. I've read this book three times and it never gets old and I never want to put it down when I read it. I love Dexter, he sounds so awesome and I love Remy. She's so real and I feel like I could meet her in real life. If you haven't read this book, you need to. I repeat, NEED TO! It is just so good, real, and truthful. When I read it, I wished I was there to see this go on and I wished I could give Remy advice, because she seems SO real!
Date published: 2005-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book EVER! :) This book was one of the best books i've ever read. Sarah Dessen is an amazing author and i love all of her books espeacially this one. i had trouble putting it down and i immediatly fell in love with dexter :) the characters in this book seem so real and its a great book if your ever scared of falling in love it really teaches a good lesson. great book ! :) <3 monique xx
Date published: 2005-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from this lullaby great summer read no doubt about it though remy drove me insane but i immediatly fell in love with dexter! then again i love channing tatum too. <3 haha . i absolutly recomend this book to anyone who is scared of love. it keep me up past midnight i didnt want to put it down definitly going to read it again!
Date published: 2005-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!! This is one of the best books I've ever read. I stayed up really late to finish reading it the day I got it and then read it again the next day. The way Sarah Dessen describes feelings is so beautiful and the story was totally intruiging. Everything in the book made me feel really emotional and I became really attached to the characters. I absolutely love this book and I can't believe I've gone so long not knowing about it.
Date published: 2005-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing Sarah Dessen's books have got to be the best books I've ever read. I've read all but one and i plan on reading it very soon. This Lullaby was the second book I read. I just couldn't put it down. It draws you in like you're the character and can't stand not knowing what's going to happen next. I was up untill 2 in the morning reading and my mom had to come in and make me put down the booK! I absolutly loved Dexter. I wish i could find my own real life dex. lol x x <3tamara
Date published: 2005-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING BOOk This book was great! It caught my attention for hours and I couldn't put it down! I recommend it to all teen readers!!
Date published: 2004-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THE BEST i love sarah dessen's novels, they inspire me so much. this one was such an amazing book. i hope you will all find that out on your own instead of reading people's reviews. make your own decision based on your opinion. hope you love it.
Date published: 2004-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a bit dissapointed I would have liked it better if something more hapopened with Dexter. But it was also i book i couldn't put down. With 350 pages it only took 4 nights to read! A must buy!
Date published: 2004-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!! I have read many books in my time and This Lullaby is by far the best! The characters are lovable and funny. This book is a perfect combination of romance, heartache, and how to deal with the tough stuff in life. I highly recomend it to everyone!
Date published: 2003-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow I have read alot of books, And this one tops all of them. This book was wonderful it was such a good story i couldn't stop reading it i finished the book in a day and a half. I enjoyed reading it and when i was finished it,it gave me an empty feeling because it was over and i wish it wasn't. I am going to read the rest of the books by Sarah Dessen, because this one was so good.
Date published: 2003-07-05

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Chapter Eight“Don’t you give me no rotten tomato, cause all I ever wanted was your sweet potato.” Dexter stopped as the music did. Now, all we could hear was the fridge rattling and Monkey snoring. “Okay, so what else rhymes with potato?”Ted strummed his guitar, looking at the ceiling. On the couch by the refrigerator, John Miller rolled over, his red head bonking the wall.“Anybody?” Dexter asked.“Well,” Lucas said, crossing his legs, “it depends on if you want a real rhyme, or a pseudo rhyme.”Dexter looked at him. “Pseudo rhyme,” he repeated.“A real rhyme,” Lucas began, in what I already recognized as his eggbert voice, “is tomato. But you could easily tack an o onto another word and make a rhyme of it, even if it’s not grammatically correct. Like, say, relate-o. Or abate-o.”“Don’t you give me no rotten tomato,” Dexter sang, “just ’cause to your crazy shit I cannot relate-o.”Silence. Ted plucked out another chord, then tightened a string.“Needs work,” Lucas said. “But I think we’re getting somewhere.”“Can you all just please shut up,” John Miller moaned from the couch, his voice muffled. “I’m trying to sleep.”“It’s two in the afternoon, and this is the kitchen,” Ted told him. “Go someplace else or quit bitching.”“Boys, boys,” Dexter said.Ted sighed. “People, we need to focus on this. I want ‘The Potato Opus’ to be ready for that show next week.”“‘The Potato Opus’?” Lucas said. “Is that what it’s called now?”“Can you think of something better?”Lucas was quiet for a second. “Nope,” he said finally. “Sure can’t.”“Then shut the hell up.” Ted picked up the guitar. “From the top, first verse, with feeling.”And so it went. Another day at the yellow house, where I’d been spending a fair amount of my free time lately. Not that I liked the setting, particularly; the place was a total dump, mostly because four guys lived there and none of them had ever been introduced formally to a bottle of Lysol. There was rotting food in the fridge, something black and mildewy growing on the shower tiles, and some sort of unidentifiable rank smell coming from beneath the back deck. Only Dexter’s room was decent, and that was because I had my limits. When I found a pair of dirty underwear under a couch cushion, or had to fight the fruit flies in the kitchen that were always swarming the garbage can, I at least could take comfort in the fact that his bed was made, his CDs stacked alphabetically, and the plug-in air freshener was working its pink, rose-shaped little heart out. All of this work on my part was a small price to pay, I figured, for my sanity.Which, in truth, had been sorely tested lately, ever since my mother had returned from her honeymoon and set up her new marriage under our shared roof. All through the spring we’d had workmen passing through, hauling drywall and windows and tracking sawdust across the floors. They’d knocked out the wall of the old den, extending it into the backyard, and added a new master suite, complete with a new bathroom featuring a sunken tub and side-by-side sinks separated by blocks of colored glass. Crossing over the threshold into what Chris and I had named “the new wing” was like entering an entirely different house, which was pretty much my mother’s intention. It was her matched set, with a new bedroom, a new husband, and new carpet. Her life was perfect. But as was often the case, the rest of us were still adjusting.One problem was Don’s stuff. Being a lifelong bachelor, he had certain objects that he’d grown attached to, very little of which fit my mother’s decorating scheme for the new wing. The only thing that even remotely reflected Don’s taste in their bedroom, in fact, was a large Moroccan tapestry depicting various biblical tableaus. It was enormous and took up most of a wall, but it did match the carpet almost perfectly, and therefore constituted a compromise of taste that my mother could live with. The remainder of his belongings were exiled to the rest of the house, which meant that Chris and I had to adjust to living with Don’s decor.The first piece I noticed, a couple of days after their return, was a framed print by some Renaissance painter of a hugely buxom woman posing in a garden. Her fingers were big, pudgy, and white, and she was stretched across a couch, buck naked. She had huge breasts, which were hanging down off the couch, and she was eating grapes, a fistful in one hand, another about to drop into her mouth. It might have been art—a flexible term, in my opinion—but it was disgusting. Especially hanging on the wall over our kitchen table, where I had no choice but to look at it while I ate breakfast.“Man,” Chris said to me the first morning it was there, about two days after Don had moved in. He was eating cereal, already dressed in his Jiffy Lube uniform. “How much you think a woman like that weighed?”I took a bite of my muffin, trying to concentrate on the newspaper in front of me. “I have no idea,” I said.“At least two-fifty,” Chris decided, slurping down another spoonful. “Those breasts alone have to be five pounds. Maybe even seven.”“Do we have to talk about this?”“How can you not?” he said. “God. It’s right there. It’s like trying to ignore the sun or something.”And it wasn’t just the picture. It was the modern art statue that now stood in the foyer that looked, frankly, like a big penis. (Was there a theme here? I’d never pegged Don for that type, but now I was starting to wonder.) Add to that the fancy set of Calphalon pots that now hung over our kitchen island and the red leather sofa in the living room, which just screamed Single Man on the Make to me, and it was no wonder I was feeling a little out of place. But then again, this house wasn’t really mine to claim anymore. Don was now permanent—supposedly—while I was of temporary status, gone come fall. For once, I was the one with an expiration date, and I was finding I didn’t like it much.Which explained, in some ways, why I was over at Dexter’s so much. But there was another reason, one I wasn’t so quick to admit. Even to myself.For as long as I’d been dating, I’d had a mental flow chart, a schedule, of how things usually went. Relationships always started with that heady, swoonish period, where the other person is like some new invention that suddenly solves all life’s worst problems, like losing socks in the dryer or toasting bagels without burning the edges. At this phase, which usually lasts about six weeks max, the other person is perfect. But at six weeks and two days, the cracks begin to show; not real structural damage yet, but little things that niggle and nag. Like the way they always assume you’ll pay for your own movie, just because you did once, or how they use the dashboard of their car as an imaginary keyboard at long stoplights. Once, you might have thought this was cute, or endearing. Now, it annoys you, but not enough to change anything. Come week eight, though, the strain is starting to show. This person is, in fact, human, and here’s where most relationships splinter and die. Because either you can stick around and deal with these problems, or ease out gracefully, knowing that at some point in the not-too-distant future, there will emerge another perfect person, who will fix everything, at least for six weeks.I knew this pattern even before my first real boyfriend, because I’d seen my mother go through it several times already. With marriages, the pattern is stretched out, adjusted, like working with dog years: the six weeks becomes a year, sometimes two. But it’s the same. That was why it was always so easy to figure out how long my stepfathers would last. It all comes down to math.If I did the math with Dexter, on paper it was perfect. We’d come in well under the three-month mark, with me leaving for college just as the shine was wearing off. But the problem was that Dexter wasn’t cooperating. If my theories of relationships were plotted geographically, Dexter wasn’t even left of center or far out in right field. He was on another map altogether, rapidly approaching the distant corner and headed into the unknown.First, he was very gangly. I’d never liked gangly guys, and Dexter was clumsy, skinny, and always in motion. It was not surprising to me now that our relationship had started with him crashing into me in various ways, since I now knew he moved through the world with a series of flying elbows, banged knees, and flailing limbs. In the short time we’d been together, he’d already broken my alarm clock, crushed one of my beaded necklaces underfoot, and managed, somehow, to leave a huge scuff mark on my ceiling. I am not joking. He was always jiggling his knees, or drumming his fingers, as if revving up, just waiting for the checkered flag to drop so he could spin out at full speed. I found myself constantly reaching over and trying to quiet him, covering his knee or fingers with my hand, thinking it would silence them, when instead I would be caught up in it with him, jangling along, as if whatever current charged him was now flowing through me.Point two: he was a slob. His shirttail was always out, his tie usually had a stain, his hair, while curly and thick, sprung out from his head wildly in a mad-scientist sort of fashion. Also, his shoelaces were continually untied. He was all loose ends, and I hated loose ends. If I could ever have gotten him to stand still long enough, I knew I would have been unable to resist tucking, tying, smoothing, organizing, as if he were a particularly messy closet just screaming for my attention. But instead I found myself gritting my teeth, riding the wave of my natural anxiety, because this wasn’t permanent, me and him, and to think so would only hurt both of us.Which led to point three: he really liked me. Not in an only-until-the-end-of-the-summer way, which was safest. In fact, he never talked about the future at all, as if we had so much time, and there wasn’t a definite end point to our relationship. I, of course, wanted to make things clear from the start: that I was leaving, no attachments, the standard spiel I repeated in my head finally spoken aloud. But whenever I tried to do this, he evaded so easily that it was as if he could read my mind, see what was coming, and for once move gracefully to sidestep the issue entirely.Now, as work on “The Potato Song” broke up so that Ted could go to work, Dexter came over and stood in front of me, stretching his arms over his head. “Total turn-on seeing a real band at work, isn’t it?”“Relate-o is a lame rhyme,” I said, “pseudo or not.”He winced, then smiled. “It’s a work in progress,” he explained.I put down my crossword puzzle—I’d finished about half of it—and he picked it up, glancing at what I’d finished. “Impressive,” he said. “And of course, Miss Remy does her crosswords in ink. What, you don’t make mistakes?”“Nope.”“You’re here, though,” he said.“Okay,” I admitted, “maybe one.”He grinned again. We’d only been seeing each other for a few weeks now, but this easy give-and-take still surprised me. From that very first day in my room, I felt like we’d somehow skipped the formalities of the Beginning of a Relationship: those awkward moments when you’re not all over each other and are still feeling out the other person’s boundaries and limits. Maybe this was because we’d been circling each other for a while before he finally catapulted through my window. But if I let myself think about it much—and I didn’t—I had flashes of realizing that I’d been comfortable with him even at the very start. Clearly, he’d been comfortable with me, grabbing my hand as he had that first day. As if he knew, even then, that we’d be here now.“I bet you,” he said to me, “that I can name more states by the time that woman comes out of the dry cleaners than you can.”I looked at him. We were sitting outside of Joie, both of us on our lunch break, me drinking a Diet Coke, him snarfing down a sleeve of Fig Newtons. “Dexter,” I said, “it’s hot.”“Come on,” he said, sliding his hand over my leg. “I’ll bet you.”“No.”“Scared?”“Again, no.”He cocked his head to the side, then squeezed my knee. His foot, of course, was tapping. “Let’s go. She’s about to walk in. When the door shuts behind her, time’s on.”“Oh, God.” I said. “What’s the bet?”“Five bucks.”“Boring. And too easy.”“Ten bucks.”“Okay. And you have to buy dinner.”“Done.”We watched as the woman, who was wearing pink shorts and a T-shirt and carrying an armful of wrinkled dress shirts, pulled open the door to the cleaners. As it swung shut, I said, “Maine.”“North Dakota.”“Florida.”“Virginia.”“California.”“Delaware.” I was keeping track on my fingers: he’d been known to cheat but denied it with great vehemence, so I always had to have proof. Challenges, to Dexter, were like those duels in the old movies, where men in white suits smacked each other across the face with gloves, and all honor was at stake. So far, I hadn’t won them all, but I hadn’t backed down either. I was, after all, still new at this.Dexter’s challenges, apparently, were legendary. The first one I’d seen had been between him and John Miller. It was a couple of days after Dexter and I had gotten together, one of the first times I’d gone over to the yellow house with him. We found John Miller sitting at the kitchen table in his pajamas, eating a banana. There was a big bunch of them on the table in front of him, seemingly out of place in a kitchen where I now knew the major food groups consisted of Slurpees and beer.“What’s up with the bananas?” Dexter asked him, pulling out a chair and sitting down.John Miller, who still looked half asleep, glanced up and said, “Fruit of the Month Club. My nana gave it to me for my birthday.”“Potassium,” Dexter said. “You need that every day, you know.”John Miller yawned, as if used to this kind of stupid information. Then he went back to his banana.“I bet,” Dexter said suddenly, in the voice I later would come to recognize as the one that always preceded a challenge, deep and game show host–like, “that you can’t eat ten bananas.”John Miller finished chewing the bite in his mouth, then swallowed. “I bet,” he replied, “that you’re right.”“It’s a challenge,” Dexter said. Then he nudged out a chair, with a knee that was already jiggling, for me, and said, in the same low, slow voice, “Will you take it?”“Are you crazy?”“For ten bucks.”“I am not eating ten bananas for ten bucks,” John Miller said indignantly.“It’s a dollar a banana!” Dexter said.“And furthermore,” John Miller went on, tossing the now-empty peel at an overflowing garbage can by the back door, and missing, “this double-dare shit of yours is getting old, Dexter. You can’t just go around throwing down challenges whenever you feel like it.”“Are you passing on the challenge?”“Will you stop using that voice?”“Twenty bucks,” Dexter said. “Twenty bucks—”“No,” John Miller told him.“—and I’ll clean the bathroom.”This, clearly, changed things. John Miller looked at the bananas, then at Dexter. Then at the bananas again. “Does the one I just ate count as one?”“No.”John Miller slapped the table. “What? It’s not even to my stomach yet, for godsakes!”Dexter thought for a second. “Okay. We’ll let Remy call this one.”“What?” I said. They were both looking at me.“You’re an unbiased view,” Dexter explained.“She’s your girlfriend,” John Miller complained. “That’s not unbiased!”“She is not my girlfriend.” Dexter looked at me, as if this might upset me, which was evidence that he didn’t know me at all. He said, “What I mean is, we may be seeing each other”—and here he paused, as if waiting for me to chime in with something, which I didn’t, so he went on—“but you are your own person with your opinions and convictions. Correct?”“I’m not his girlfriend,” I told John Miller.“She loves me,” Dexter said to him, as an aside, and I felt my face flame. “Anyway,” he said, moving on breezily, “Remy? What do you think? Does it count or not?”“Well,” I said, “I think it should count somehow. Perhaps as half.”“Half!” Dexter looked at me as if he was just so pleased, as if he had carved me out of clay himself. “Perfect. So, if you choose to accept this challenge, you must eat nine and a half bananas.”John Miller thought about this for a second. Later, I would learn that money was always scarce at the yellow house, and these challenges provided some balance of cash flow from one person to another. Twenty bucks was food and beer money for at least a couple of days. And it was really only nine bananas. And a half.“Okay,” John Miller said. And they shook on it.Before the challenge could happen, witnesses had to be gathered. Ted was brought in from the back deck, along with a girl he’d been seeing, introduced to me as Scary Mary (I chose not to ask), and, after a futile search for the keyboardist, Lucas, Dexter’s dog Monkey was agreed upon as a suitable replacement. We all gathered around the table, or on the long, ugly brown couch that was next to the refrigerator, while John Miller did some deep breathing and stretching, as if preparing for a fifty-yard dash.“Okay,” Ted, the only one with a working watch and therefore timekeeper, said, “Go!”If you’ve never seen someone take on a food challenge, as I had not at that point, you might expect it to actually be exciting. Except that the challenge was not to eat nine and a half bananas quickly: it was just to eat nine and a half bananas. So by banana four or so, boredom set in, and Ted and Scary Mary went to the Waffle House, leaving me, Dexter, and Monkey to wait out the next five and a half bananas. It turned out we didn’t have to: John Miller conceded defeat in the middle of banana six, then carefully got to his feet and went to the bathroom.“I hope you didn’t kill him,” I told Dexter as the door shut behind him, the lock clicking.“No way,” he said easily, stretching back in his chair. “You should have seen him last month, when he ate fifteen eggs in a row. Then we were worried. He turned bright red.”“You know,” I said, “funny how it’s never you having to eat vast quantities of things.”“Not true. I just moved on after completing the master of all challenges back in April.”I hated to even ask what would earn such a title, but curiosity got the better of me. “Which was?”“Thirty-two ounces of Miracle Whip,” he said. “In twenty minutes flat.”Just the thought of this made my stomach twist. I hated mayonnaise, and any derivation thereof: egg salad, tuna salad, even deviled eggs. “That’s disgusting.”“I know.” He said it proudly. “I could never top it, even if I tried.”I had to wonder what kind of person got such satisfaction from constant competitiveness. And Dexter would make challenges about anything, whether it was in his control or not. Some recent favorites included I Bet You a Quarter the Next Car That Passes Is Either Blue or Green, Five Bucks Says I Can Make Something Edible Out of the Canned Corn, French-Fried Potato Sticks, and Mustard in the Pantry, and, of course, How Many States Can You Name While That Woman Picks Up Her Dry Cleaning?I, personally, was up to twenty. Dexter was at nineteen and experiencing a bit of a brain cramp.“California,” he said finally, casting a nervous look at the front of the cleaners, where we could see the woman talking to someone behind the counter.“Already said it,” I told him.“Wisconsin.”“Montana.”“South Carolina.”The door opened: it was her. “Game over,” I said. “I win.”“You do not!”I held up my fingers, where I’d been keeping track. “I win by one,” I said. “Pay up.”He started to reach into his pockets, sighing, then instead pulled me closer, spreading his fingers around my waist, burying his face in my neck.“Nope,” I said, putting my hands on his chest, “won’t work.”“I’ll be your slave,” he said into my ear, and I felt a chill run up my back, then cast it off just as quickly, reminding myself again that I always had a boyfriend in summer, someone that caught my eye after school was finished and usually lasted right up until the beach trip my family took each August. The only difference this time was that I was going west instead of east. And I liked being able to think about it that way, in terms of a compass, something set in stone that would remain, unchanged, long after I was gone.Besides, I knew already we would never work long-term. He was so imperfect already, his cracks and fissures apparent. I could only imagine what structural damage lay beneath, deep in the foundation. But still, it was hard to keep my head clear as he kissed me there, in July, with another challenge behind me. After all, I was up now, and it still seemed like we had time.“The question is, has he been given The Speech yet?” Jess asked.“No,” Chloe told her. “The question is, have you slept with him yet?”They all looked at me. It wasn’t rude for them to ask, of course: usually this was common knowledge—once, common assumption. But now I hesitated, which was unnerving.“No,” I said finally. There was a quick intake of breath—shock!—from somebody, then silence.“Wow,” Lissa said finally. “You like him.”“It’s not a big deal,” I said, not refuting this exactly, which set off another round of silence and exchanged looks. Out at the Spot, with the sun going down, I felt the trampoline bounce lightly beneath me and leaned back, spreading my fingers over the cool metal of the springs.“No Speech, no sex,” Jess said, summing up. “This is dangerous.”“Maybe he’s different,” Lissa offered, stirring her drink with one finger.“Nobody’s different,” Chloe told her. “Remy knows that better than any of us.”It says something about my absolute adherence to a plan concerning relationships that my best friends had terms, like outline headings, detailing my actions. The Speech usually came right as the heady, romantic, fun-new-boyfriend phase was boiling to full steam. It was my way of hitting the brakes, slowly downshifting, and usually involved me pulling whatever Ken was in my life at that time aside to say something like: hey, I really like you and we’re having fun, but you know, I can’t get too serious because I’m going to the beach/really going to focus on school come fall/just getting over someone and not up to anything long-term. This was the summer speech: the winter/holiday one was pretty much the same, except you inserted I’m going skiing/really going to have to rally until graduation/dealing with a lot of family crap for the last part. And usually, guys took it one of two ways. If they really liked me, as in wear-my-class-ring-love-me-always, they bolted, which was just as well. If they liked me but were willing to slow down, to see boundaries, they nodded and saved face by saying they felt the same way. And then I was free to proceed to the next step, which—and I’m not proud—usually involved sleeping with them.But not right away. Never right away, not anymore. I liked to have enough time invested to see a few cracks and get rid of anyone whose failings I knew I couldn’t deal with in the long term, i.e., more than the six weeks that usually encompassed the fun-new-boyfriend phase.Once, I was easy. Now, I was choosy. See? Big difference.And besides, something was different about Dexter. Whenever I tried to revert to my set outline, something stopped me. I could give him the talk, and he’d probably be fine with it. I could sleep with him, and he’d be fine—more than fine—with that too. But somewhere, deep in my conscious mind, something niggled me that maybe he wouldn’t, that maybe he’d think less of me, or something. I knew it was stupid.And besides, I’d just been busy. That was probably it, really.Chloe opened her bottled water, took a swig, then chased it with a sip from the tiny bottle of bourbon in her hand. “What are you doing?” she asked me, point blank.“I’m just having fun,” I replied, taking a swig of my Diet Zip. It seemed easy to say this, having just run through it in my head. “He’s leaving at the end of the summer too, you know.”“Then why haven’t you given him The Speech?” Jess asked.“I just,” I said, and then shook my cup, stalling. “I haven’t thought about it, to be honest.”They looked at one another, considering the implications of this. Lissa said, “I think he’s really nice, Remy. He’s sweet.”“He’s clumsy,” Jess grumbled. “He keeps stepping on my feet.”“Maybe,” Chloe said, as if it was just occurring to her, “you just have big feet.”“Maybe,” Jess replied, “you should shut up.”Lissa sighed, closing her eyes. “You guys. Please. We’re talking about Remy.”“We don’t have to talk about Remy,” I said. “We really don’t. Let’s talk about somebody else.”There was silence for a second: I sucked down some more of my drink, Lissa lit a cigarette. Finally Chloe said, “You know, the other night Dexter said he’d give me ten bucks if I could stand on my head for twenty minutes. What the hell does that mean?”They all looked at me. I said, “Just ignore him. Next?”“I think Adam’s seeing someone else,” Lissa said suddenly.“Okay,” I said. “Now, see, this is interesting.”Lissa ran her finger over the rim of her cup, her head down, one curl bouncing slightly with the movement. It had been about a month since Adam had dumped her, and she’d moved through her weepy stage to just kind of sad all the time, with occasional moments when I actually heard her laugh out loud, then stop, as if she’d forgotten she wasn’t supposed to be happy.“Who is she?” Chloe asked.“I don’t know. She drives a red Mazda.”Jess looked at me, shaking her head. I said, “Lissa, have you been driving by his house?”“No,” she said, and then looked up at us. We, of course, were all staring back at her, knowing she was lying. “No! But the other day there was construction on Willow and then I—”“Do you want him to think you’re weak?” Jess asked her. “Do you want to give him that satisfaction?”“How can he already be with somebody else?” Lissa asked her, and Jess just sighed, shaking her head. “I’m not even totally okay yet, and he’s with someone else? How can that be?”“Because he’s a jerk,” I told her.“Because he’s a guy,” Chloe added. “And guys don’t get attached, guys don’t ever give themselves over completely, and guys lie. That’s why they should be handled with great trepidation, not trusted, and held at arm’s length whenever possible. Right, Remy?”I looked at her, and there it was again: that shifting of her eyes that meant she’d seen something in me lately she didn’t recognize, and it worried her. Because if I wasn’t cold, hard Remy, then she couldn’t be the Chloe she was, either.“Right,” I said, and smiled at Lissa. I had to lead the way here, of course. She’d never make it out otherwise. “Absolutely.”The band wasn’t called the G Flats at all. That was just their wedding persona, the one they had been forced to take on because of an incident involving the van, some authorities in Pennsylvania, and Don’s brother Michael, who was an attorney there. Apparently playing at my mother’s wedding had been some kind of payback, but it had also seemed like the right time to relocate, as the band—whose real name was Truth Squad—did every summer.For the past two years, they’d worked their way across the country, always following the same process: find a town with a decent local music scene, rent a cheap apartment, and start playing the clubs. In the first week they all got day jobs, preferably at the same place, since they shared one mode of transportation. (So now, Dexter and Lucas worked at Flash Camera, while John Miller fixed lattes at Jump Java, and Ted bagged groceries at Mayor’s Market.) Although most of the guys had some college, or, in Ted’s case, a diploma, they always got easy jobs that didn’t require much overtime or thinking. Then they’d hit the local club scene, hoping to land a regular weekly gig, as they had at Bendo. Tuesday nights, which were the slowest there, were now all theirs.They’d only been in town for a couple of days when I’d first met Dexter at Don’s Motors: they were sleeping in the van then, in the city park, until they found the yellow house. Now it seemed they’d stick around until they were run out of town for owing money or small legal infractions (it had happened before) or just got bored. Everything was planned to be transitory: they boasted that they could pack up and be gone in an hour flat, already drawing a finger across the wrinkled map in the van’s glove box, seeking out a new destination.So maybe that was what kept me from giving The Speech, this idea that his life was just as impermanent at this moment as mine. I didn’t want to be like other girls that were probably in other towns, listening to Truth Squad bootlegs and pining for Dexter Jones, born in Washington, D.C., a Pisces, lead singer, thrower of challenges, permanent address unknown. His history was as murky as mine was clear, with his dog seeming to be the only family in which he had interest. I was soon to be Remy Starr, formerly of Lakeview, now of Stanford, undecided major, leaning toward economics. We were only converging for a few weeks, fleeting. No need to follow protocol.That night me, Chloe, Jess, and Lissa got to Bendo around nine. Truth Squad was already playing, and the crowd was thin but enthusiastic. I noted, then quickly made a point of not noting, that it was mostly made up of girls, a few of them crowded up close, next to the stage, holding their beers and swaying to the music.The music, in fact, was a mix of covers and originals. The covers were, as Dexter put it, “a necessary evil”—required at weddings, and useful at clubs, at least at the beginning of sets, to prevent being beaned with beer caps and cigarette butts. (This, apparently, had happened as well.) But Dexter and Ted, who had started the band during their junior year of high school, preferred their original compositions, the biggest and most ambitious of which were the potato songs.By the time we sat down, the band was finishing the last verse of “Gimme Three Steps” as the assembled girls clapped and whoo-whooed. Then there was a few seconds of practice chords, some conferring between Ted and Dexter, and then Dexter said, “We’re going to do an original song for you all now, an instant classic. Folks, this is ‘The Potato Song.’”More cheering from the girls, one of whom—a buxom redhead with broad shoulders I recognized from the perpetual lines for the ladies’ room—moved closer to the stage, so that she was practically at Dexter’s feet. He smiled down at her, politely.“I saw her in the produce section,” he began, “late last Saturday. It hadn’t been but seven days since she went away. . . .”Another loud whoop, from someone who was, apparently, already fond of “The Potato Song.” Good thing, I thought. There were dozens where that came from.“Once she’d loved my filet mignon, my carnivore inklings,” Dexter continued, “but now she was a vegan princess, living off of beans. She’d given up the cheese and bacon, sworn off Burger King, and when I wouldn’t do the same she gave me back my ring. I stood there by the romaine lettuce, feeling my heart pine”—and here he put a hand over his chest, and looked mournful, to which the crowd cheered—“wishing that this meatless beauty still would be all mine. She turned around to go to checkout, fifteen items or less. And I knew this was the last go-round, so this is what I said. . . .”He stopped here, letting the music build, and John Miller drummed a bit faster, the beat picking up. I could see some people in the crowd already mouthing the words.“Don’t you ever give me no rotten tomato, ’cause all I ever wanted was your sweet potato,” Dexter sang. “Mashed, whipped, creamed, smothered, chunked, and diced, anyway you fix it baby sure tastes nice.”“This is a song?” Jess asked me, but Lissa was laughing now, clapping along.“This is many songs,” I told her. “It’s an opus.”“A what?” she said, but I didn’t even repeat it, because now the song was reaching its climax, which was basically a recitation of every possible kind of vegetable. The crowd was shouting things out, and Dexter was singing hard, winding up the song: when they finished, with a crashing of cymbals, the crowd burst into loud applause. Dexter leaned into the microphone, said they’d be back in a few minutes, and then got down off the stage, grabbing a plastic cup off a speaker as he did so. I watched as the redheaded girl walked up to him, zeroing in, effectively cutting off his path as he started across the floor.“Ooh, Remy,” Chloe said, noticing this too, “your man has a groupie.”“He’s not my man,” I said, taking a sip of my beer.“Remy’s with the band,” Chloe told Jess, who snorted. “So much for that no-musicians rule. Next thing you know she’ll be on the bus and selling T-shirts in the parking lot, showing off her boobs to get in the stage door.”“At least she has boobs to show,” Jess said.“I have boobs,” Chloe said, pointing to her chest. “Just because they’re not weighing me down doesn’t mean they’re not substantial.”“Okay, B cup,” Jess said, taking a sip of her drink.“I have boobs!” Chloe said again, a bit too loudly—she’d already had a couple of minibottles at the Spot. “My boobs are great, goddammit. You know that? They’re fantastic! My boobs are amazing.”“Chloe,” I said, but of course then it was too late. Not only were two guys standing nearby now completely absorbed in checking out her chest, but Dexter was sliding in beside me, a bemused look on his face. Chloe flushed red—rare for her—while Lissa patted her sympathetically on the shoulder.“So it is true,” Dexter said finally. “Girls do talk about boobs when they’re in groups. I always thought so, but I never had proof.”“Chloe was just making a point,” Lissa explained to him.“Clearly,” Dexter said, and Chloe brushed a hand through her hair and turned her head, as if she was suddenly fascinated by the wall. “So anyway,” he said brightly, moving on, “‘The Potato Song’ really went over well, don’t you think?”“I do,” I said, moving in closer as he slid his arm around my waist. That was the thing about Dexter: he wasn’t totally touchy-feely, like Jonathan had been, but he had these signature moves that I liked. The hand around my waist, for one, but then there was this thing that made me crazy, the way he cupped his fingers around the back of my neck, putting them just so, so that his thumb touched a pulse point. It was so hard to explain, but it gave me a chill, every time, almost like he was touching my heart.I looked up and Chloe had her eye on me, vigilant as ever. I shook off these thoughts, quick, and finished my beer just as Ted came up.“Nice work on that second verse,” was the first thing he said, and not nicely, but in a sarcastic, snarky way. “You know, if you butcher the words you do the song a disservice.”“Butcher what words?” Dexter said.Ted sighed, loudly. “It’s not that she was a vegan princess, living off of beans. It’s she’s a vegan princess, living off beans.”Dexter just looked at him, completely nonplussed, as if he’d just given the weather report. Chloe said, “What’s the difference?”“The entire world is the difference!” Ted snapped. “Living off of beans is proper English, which brings with it the connotation of higher society, accepted standards, and the status quo. Living off beans, however, is reminiscent of a more slang culture, realistic, and a lower class, which is indicative of both the speaker in the song and the music that accompanies it.”“All this from one word?” Jess asked him.“One word,” Ted replied, dead serious, “can change the whole world.”There was a moment while we all considered this. Finally Lissa said to Chloe, loud enough for all of us to hear (she’d had a minibottle or two herself), “I bet he did really well on his SATs.”“Shhh,” Chloe said, just as loudly.“Ted,” Dexter said, “I hear what you’re saying. And I understand. Thanks for pointing out the distinction, and I won’t make the mistake again.”Ted just stood there, blinking. “Okay,” he said, somewhat uneasily. “Good. Well. Uh, I’m gonna go smoke.”“Sounds good,” Dexter said, and with that Ted walked away, cutting through the crowd toward the bar. A couple of girls standing by the door eyed him as he passed, nodding at each other. God, this band thing was sick. Some women had no shame.“Very impressive,” I said to Dexter.“I’ve had a lot of practice,” he explained. “You see, Ted is very passionate. And really, all he wants is to be heard. Hear him, nod, agree. Three steps. Easy cheesy.”“Easy cheesy,” I repeated, and then he slid his hand up to my neck, pressing his fingers just so, and I got that weird feeling again. This time, it wasn’t so easy to shake, and as Dexter moved closer to me, kissing my forehead, I closed my eyes and wondered how deep I’d let this get before ducking out. Maybe it wouldn’t be the whole summer. Maybe I needed to derail it sooner, to prevent a real crash in the end.“Paging Dexter,” a voice came from the front of the club. I looked up: it was John Miller, squinting in the house lights. “Paging Dexter. You are needed on aisle five for a price check.”The redheaded girl was back at the stage, right up close. She turned her head and followed John Miller’s gaze, right to us. To me. And I looked right back at her, feeling possessive suddenly of something that I wasn’t even sure I should want to claim as mine.“Gotta go,” Dexter said. Then he leaned into my ear and added, “Wait for me?”“Maybe,” I said.He laughed, as if this was a joke, and disappeared into the crowd. A few seconds later I watched him climb onstage, so lanky and clumsy: he tagged a speaker with one foot, sending it toppling, as he headed to the mike. One of his shoelaces, of course, was undone.“Oh, man,” Chloe said. She was looking right at me, shaking her head, and I told myself she was wrong, so wrong, even as she spoke. “You’re a goner.”´?9²²±±±°°7k+

Editorial Reviews

"A winning story about coming to terms with the fact that loving someone requires a leap of faith, and that a soft landing is never guaranteed." -School Library Journal