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10 Best Sarah Dessen Books (2024)

Best Sarah Dessen BooksBio

Sarah, although is a successful bestselling author today, describes herself as being a really bad kid when she was a teenager. She did drugs and shortly dated a twenty-one-year-old guy who was 6 years older than her.

Thankfully, she learned her lessons and went on to attend Greensboro College, but soon dropped out to enroll herself at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She wished badly to take classes in creative writing and graduated with the highest honors in the same field.

Best Sarah Dessen Books


After graduation, Sarah worked as a waitress at night and wrote during the day. Finally, she quit her waitress job when she witnessed the publication of her first book in 1996 called That Summer. After another novel called Dreamland, she actually came to teach at the University of North Carolina-Chapel where she actually used to go for a short period of time.

Now, since we have introduced you a little bit to this amazing author who writes exceptional realistic fiction novels mostly for young adults, you can finally check out some of which we believe are the best books from Sarah Dessen.

Just Listen


Annabel Greene

In this exciting drama-filled novel, Dessen talks about the life of a young model called Annabel Greene and how it turned upside down after a horrible fight with her friend Sophie. That fight led Sophie to spread terrible gossip regarding Annabel and that’s when everything started to go downwards. She lost all of her friends and the only one she could sit at lunch at her high-school was next to a guy called Owen who didn’t really care about anyone and was highly obsessed with music.

Aside from all of the drama that was going on at her school, she had to face quite a handful at home too regarding her sister Whitney and her terrible eating disorder, Anorexia. Her older sister also has some troubles as she had to quit modeling and is now attending school in New York City.

Exciting Twist

Sarah keeps the story going as Annabel and Owen eventually start making conversation about music at the start and actually end up dating after a while. An exciting twist finally arrives as Sophie’s boyfriend assaults a fellow model at a fashion show at the mall.

Sophie finds out that the story Annabel told her about being raped from her terrible boyfriend is true and a series of disasters are coming their way. The drama in this book just keeps on going until the very last page of it which is why we have placed it in this list about some of the best books from Sarah Dessen.

The Truth About Forever



Behold, a two award winner book that holds a valuable story for teens regarding the loss of loved ones and isolation. It has won both the 2004 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Urban Fantasy and the 2007 South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Books. Sarah writes about a fantastic story of a young girl named Macy Queen who is struggling to get over the tragic death of her father and who finds friendships and romance in unexpected places.

This teenager and her mother are both finding ways to deal with this tragic event throughout the whole book and her mother hopes that some time to herself will hopefully make her more at peace with what has happened. Macy’s life previously wasn’t too bad actually as she did have a boyfriend who she cared about and loved a lot.

Lives in Detail

This is a story that Sarah has made sure to fill with a lot of unique and tasteful characters. She describes the lives of many of them, what their passions are, how they feel about certain things and people, and just makes sure to fit everything that is happening in one loving, thrilling and dramatic book.

Once you dive in and get to know the story a bit more, you will find out exactly why this book is deserving of those awards and being in our best books by Sarah Dessen list.

Along for the Ride


Two Loners

Reserve some free time for yourself, sit back, and enjoy this wonderful new story from Sarah Dessen about the connected world of two loners.

She starts out the story by introducing Auden, a teenager who doesn’t feel like one whatsoever as a result of being the perfect daughter to a terrible couple who constantly fights at night making her not being able to sleep one bit.

Peaceful Moments

After a while of arguing every day and night, her parents decide to get a divorce and her father moves away to a charming beach town called Colby. Things are finally a bit more peaceful at home and Auden gets a chance to spend a summer at her father’s house with his new family.

Having decided to accept his invitation, she goes to Colby with the hopes of spending some quality time with her old man, but she soon realizes that he spends all of his time working on his new novel which leaves her feeling neglected.

Turn of Events

Auden actually leaves Colby quite soon as she finds herself hooking up with a boy she met there knowing the fact that she actually has a boyfriend back home.

After a series of dramatic events, Auden meets Eli with whom she explores the nightlife of her town having missed out on a lot of that during the time when their parents were having difficult times staying married. You will be surprised by how memorable this story ends up being after you finish wonderful Along for the Ride.

This Lullaby



Finally, we have a thrilling romance novel from Sarah that will be sure to melt anyone’s heart. A novel that is definitely a must-read for big love believers out there and people who enjoy the most adorable love stories. Sarah talks mostly about the life of an eighteen-year-old girl by the name of Remy Starr who has a very tough time finding love and even finds it hard to believe in love overall, because of her mother’s 4 failed marriages and is currently on her fifth husband.

It’s summertime throughout the book and after some work, Remy finds herself together with her new boyfriend who helps her not only believe in love but as well as to trust herself enough to let go and actually fall in love.

Mister Right

She definitely had a hard time with these things as her mother’s love life had quite of an impact on her and Remy has seen for herself how heartbreaking love can truly be. Sarah has made the story quite interesting and dramatic as after a while Remy just comes to the conclusion that Dexter, her boyfriend, just didn’t turn out to be mister right and she found it quite hard to shake him.

Different Places and Characters

The love stories take you to a lot of different places and make you feel differently about all of the characters from time to time. One thing is for certain and that is that Sarah sure knows how to woo her readers with amazing novels filled with romance and drama such as this one. You will definitely see why it made the best books by Sarah Dessen list.

Lock and Key


Unique and Complex

We have yet another interesting story filled with some unique and complex characters. You might wonder how Sarah comes up with all of these crazy and different characters and super unique and memorable stories. No one knows, but that’s just something that bestselling authors like herself have in common.

This time, Sarah introduces her readers to Ruby, a seventeen-year-old girl who has a mother who is addicted to drugs and alcohol and a sister who went to college when Ruby was a bit younger. The story gets interesting quite fast as Ruby’s mother abandoned her and child services place her in a new home that most kids like herself only wish for.

Rich Life

It was the home of Cora and her husband Jamie Hunter who has a life full of riches as he happened to be a dot com millionaire. Like any kid, getting abandoned by their mother isn’t just something that money can make better and she has a rough time dealing with it and even a harder time letting herself trust anyone.

Sarah is known to come up with very complex characters who are sometimes in isolation due to the fact that they have gone through something horrible like the loss of a loved one or something similar. However, this book will surely be a nice read for anyone as it has a very memorable story which is why it is also among the best books from Sarah Dessen.

Someone Like You


Best Friends Forever

Sarah Dessen really gets what it means to be best friends, especially when it comes to female friendships, and she displays it so accurately in this book. It’s a story of two best friends who find their roles in their friendship may just need to change when a tragedy occurs.

Halley and Scarlett have always been attached at the hip. Halley has followed in Scarlett’s wake over the years, but she finds that the dynamic of their friendship will undergo a massive change. Scarlett has just found out that her boyfriend has died in a motorcycle accident, and to add to that, she is also pregnant with his child.

A Bond Like No Other

Devastated by the loss, it is the first time in their friendship that Scarlett really needs to lean on Halley. It’s a pressure that Halley has never experienced before and the weight of it definitely starts to affect their friendship. But Halley and Scarlett have that forever type of bond – one that may bend under pressure, but it will never break.

I am sure everyone has their person, that one friend that they know they can always turn to, so I felt really connected to these characters right off the bat because of their friendship. Sarah Dessen delivers a great story, which is in order with her other young adult contemporary novels, so make sure to give this one a read!

What Happened to Goodbye


Who Am I?

Ever since McLean’s parents got divorced, McLean and her father, a restaurant consultant, have moved four times in the space of two years. It goes without saying that a life constantly on the move makes it a bit more difficult to really plant some roots and figure out who you are. And this is the problem that McLean is facing: who is she really?

Estranged from her mother and her mother’s happy new family, McLean follows her father from town to town, trying to move on from an unhappy past. McLean finds that in each new place she has an opportunity to reinvent herself, try out a different persona and figure out what works best. She can be anything from a cheerleader to a drama student.

Finding Yourself

The problem is, always changing who you are and having to start all over again can get exhausting, and McLean is finding that for the first time, she actually wants to stay in one place and figure out how to just be herself (whoever that may be). There is also a very cute boy next door who may just be able to help her discover who she really is.

This book has all the hallmarks of a Dessen story, with great characters, good writing and an interesting storyline. McLean is a really compelling main character and I loved going on the journey with her while she discovered her identity. There is also a great cast of kooky and adorable friends who bring buckets of entertainment.




Caitlin has started dating Rogerson Biscoe, and ever since they got together, she feels like she has fallen into some sort of dreamland. Nothing feels real. Rogerson is so different from anyone that Caitlin has ever met. He has this magnetism to him, a compelling nature that just draws her in and makes her forget the world around her.

Caitlin doesn’t quite mind forgetting about the real world, because it means forgetting about all the bad things in her life – like her missing sister, withdrawn mother, and the fact that she is living an otherwise lackluster life. Caitlin is quite happy to stay in this dreamland, where it feels like she doesn’t have any problems.

Time To Wake Up

Unfortunately for Caitlin, life doesn’t work that way. Your problems don’t just disappear because you refuse to acknowledge them. Add that to the fact that Rogerson is dangerous in ways she doesn’t want to think about, Caitlin is just now realizing that being with him may become a bigger problem than being without him. It’s time for her to wake up.

I have to say, the blurb for this book really doesn’t give much away, and I wanted to keep in line with that. I went into this story not really knowing where it was going to go. It’s heartbreaking in so many ways, but there is this underline of hope throughout. Caitlin’s story is told in a very raw way, and Dessen shows how the choices we make have a huge impact on the path you end up on in life.

Saint Anything


Other Peoples Choices

This is the latest book that I have read from Sarah Dessen, and it is a story about how people can be affected by someone else’s bad choices, and sometimes those who love us become the family we need in difficult times. Sometimes starting over can be the very thing that puts you one step forward in the right direction.

That is exactly the case for the main character in this book, Sydney. She has always felt like she is invisible, especially with her brother, Peyton, being the focus of her family’s attention. Handsome and charismatic, Peyton seems to be on a path of self-destruction, one that ends with him leaving a boy crippled and putting Peyton in jail.

A Little Chaos

With everything going on, Sydney is starting to question her place in her family and the world. But when she meets the Chatham family, she finds herself drawn into their warmth and occasional chaos. It feels like the first time Sydney has ever been fully accepted, no questions asked. Within this family, people with whom Sydney shares no blood relation, she might just find herself and where she belongs.

This is a very psychologically probing book from Dessen, and the story is so compelling. I loved how different each character was and how Dessen displays the chaos you get in a family even when they all love each other. Ultimately, this is a story about a girl discovering who she is, and finding friendship and love along the way (of course there is a romance aspect, did you think Dessen would leave that out?).

The Rest of the Story


Same Old, Same Old

Here we have one of Sarah Dessen’s new books and it’s one of her best rated ones. It follows Emma Saylor, who lost her mom when she was ten, and sadly doesn’t remember too much about her. The one thing Emma does remember, is all the stories her mom used to tell about a big lake that seemed to go on forever, with crystal clear water and mossy trees surrounding it.

It’s just Emma and her dad, and while their life is good, it’s a little predictable. That is, until Emma unexpectedly finds herself spending the summer with her mom’s family – the grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since before her mom died. Arriving in North Lake, Emma realizes that it is a town with two very different communities.

Two Sides To Emma

While Emma’s mom grew up working class, her dad came from a wealthier family that would spend summers at Lake North resort. The longer Emma is there, the more she feels as though she is two different people. She’s Emma, but to her new family she is Saylor. Emma is finding herself getting caught up in the magic of North Lake, but also in the spell of an old friend named Roo.

Slowly but surely, Emma is going to find a whole new world in front of her, and it was interesting to see which side of her would win out when the summer comes to an end. You just know that this is going to be a good read, without me even having to say so. Sarah Dessen is the queen of consistency, and she really hits it out of the park with this best book!

Final Thoughts


As we said, Sarah tends to write stories filled with romance, thrill, drama, and amazing memories from people’s lives. She comes up with the most unique and complex characters who will definitely leave an impression on the reader as they all have something that they are dealing with, that impact the whole dynamic of her stories. Feel free to enjoy and get to know her through some of the books on this list that we think are among the best from Sarah Dessen.

Alissa Wynn

Alissa is an avid reader, blogger, and wannabe writer. (She's a much better cook than a writer actually). Alissa is married, has one human, one feline, and two canine kids. She always looks a mess and never meets a deadline.