***SO SORRY THIS WAS NOT UP ON THURSDAY, READERS! My internet decided to go BONKERS and not let me access WordPress or any other site.***
We’re over the hump in Sarah Dessen Week, but that doesn’t mean we’re slowing down! We’ve talked about her girls, her settings, and her easter egg reminders. Now it’s time to talk about her guys. One of the staples of a Dessen book is a good love story. Whether a love story is what she meant to write – or if a relationship is the end goal – Dessen sure knows how to write a compelling one. Something you’re definitely going to notice on this list is consistency – many of these guys come from the same books as the girls I already spoke about. Let’s be honest, there’s a reason for that: It’s easy to love a book when BOTH characters are so compelling. I felt a little bad when I looked at the lists, and then decided NOPE, not going to feel bad at all!
5. Nathan, Keeping the Moon
-Nathan was the character I wanted to continue learning about in KTM but didn’t really get the chance to. He was so kind, so caring to everyone around him. He was always so calm and helpful. I LOVED it. I thought he was just this fascinating bit of calm in an otherwise chaotic situation for Colie, the main character. But the thing about Nathan was he had his own skeletons. They eventually came out, and it was great to see. The way he handled problems was super interesting, maybe not the healthiest, but super interesting nonetheless. He was the cherry on top of KTM for me.
4. Eli, Along for the Ride
-Like Nathan, Eli from AFTR had a very interesting, and let’s be honest, heartbreaking, way of handling his problems. A semi-pro BMXer, Eli stops riding after the death of his best friend, Abe, in a car crash. Or, everyone THINKS he has stopped riding. When Auden discovers his ride-at-night secret, the two bond and go on a journey to allow Auden to do everything she never did as a kid. Eli is, in my opinion, the most thoughtful character Dessen has ever created. He helps Auden take this ‘quest’ for no other reason than he wants her to be fulfilled and happy. It’s not for him. Does it help him? Yes, for sure, but he’s not doing it so he can say “yeah I did this for Auden.” I really do think it’s impossible not to fall in love with Eli when you read this book. He’s someone I really hope pops up again in the Dessen-verse soon.
3. Owen, Just Listen
-Ah, Owen. One of the two reasons I wanted a tall guy with big muscles in high school (the other is also on this list). Owen, to put it lightly, is a badass. To be fair, he’s a badass in all of the wrong ways, BUT he also channels that badass-ery into the good things as well. For starters, how cool is it to have a radio show?! I think I sound weird on recordings, but SO COOL. What really struck me about Owen is how he processes things. Personally, I tend to feel like I fall in between him and Annabel in the way I handle anger and disappointment. I usually begin with a silent freakout and flight response like Annabel does, but I certainly understand the buttons pushed to make Owen yell and hit things. I don’t tend to hit things, but I certainly want to sometimes. Seeing Owen work through that and go through his process was really therapeutic for me. I also love that he was not SO MUCH a music snob that he wouldn’t accept Annabel’s preferences. Is it obvious I’m rambling? I loved this book, and Owen is a major reason why. He’s just so cool, and so caring.
2. Dexter, This Lullaby
-Now, let me be clear. I do objectively think that Dex is the best male character Sarah Dessen has ever written. He just is. He’s incredibly fun, quirky, and he’s everything Remy needs. But this is a subjective list, and he’s only my number two. I’m sorry! Sorta. Let’s also be honest with ourselves, who doesn’t want a musician to fall in love with them and sing them songs? That’s right – everyone does! It’s a fact. Or, at least it is my world. What you’ve got to love about Dexter is his self-assurance. He is just so sure Remy wants to be with him. And when guys do that, it can get creepy fast, as I’m sure many people know. But while he’s confident, he also consistently allows Remy to make her choices. He states his intentions, and his feelings, and waits for Remy to be ready and to go to him. When he knows he’s going to sing the one song she asked him not to, you can see on his face (well, read) that he knows he’s betraying her and feels awful about it. Which he should, honestly. But, I sorta love that he does do that. Because in that, Dessen highlights that while this is a love story, these characters still have lives outside of each other. And Dex made a decision to benefit himself and the people who have always stood beside him. I have to respect that. Sigh, I do love Dex.
1. Wes, The Truth About Forever
– Okay, so that Dexter explanation was long. There’s probably less that I’m going to write about Wes, but that’s not because I don’t love him just a slight ounce more. It’s because there’s less to quantify. I love Wes because of the way he took responsibility for his actions and then worked to better himself and also provide for his younger brother after the loss of their mom. He’s humble, ignoring his obviously gorgeous looks and incredible art talent. He’s strong (mentally, emotionally, and physically), caring for his entire family, it seems, while also grieving himself. He’s intelligent, though maybe not on a Jason level. And he listens. When he and Macy play their Truth Game, he listens without judgment and clearly cares about what Macy has to say to him. When she makes the (completely erroneous) decision to go back to Jason (Why.), he picks up the pieces and allows her to move on, even when it’s not what he wants. He’s so selfless. Reading about him honestly made my heart feel lighter. I would think “I want to be like Wes,” minus, of course, the criminal conviction. The subtle way he sends his message to Macy toward the end of the book? I almost sobbed the first time I read it. Basically, in the mind of my 16/17 year old self (and, my almost 25 year old self), Wes is everything.
So that’s my list! How would you rank the Dessen boys?