I’ve been a Sarah Dessen fan for most of my reading life. Sure, I loved running through Avonlea with Anne and frolicking in Mary Lennox’s secret garden but the real fun came when I discovered the town of Colby. Dessen’s fictional town is filled with lovable characters you wish were real — and now that I live in Chapel Hill, they are!
At the reading Dessen talked about how most of Colby is based on sights around Chapel Hill, just renamed. She let us know that she’d originally tried writing books set in the real Chapel Hill but her writing workshop quibbled over her sense of geography saying, “It takes longer to get from Southern Season to UNC!” or “There’s not a gas station on that part of US-15.” Good tip to file away for future novel writing adventures!
The audience was a mix of teenagers, who’d been enchanted with Dessen’s latest offering What Happened to Goodbye, and those of us who grew up with Hailey, Colie, and Haven. To me this speaks to her ability to write books that stand up even after the home lines mentioned in them have long gone —
I went back and reread Keeping the Moon this week and found it every bit as lovely as I did 13 years ago.