Sarah Dessen

Someone Like You

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Someone Like You Summary

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Someone Like You is a 1998 young adult fiction novel by Sarah Dessen. Divided into three parts, it follows two high school friends, Scarlett and Halley, who have known each other since elementary school. While Scarlett is outgoing and adventurous, Halley is quiet and thoughtful; complementing each other, they make it through several traumatic life events despite the various ways in which the chaos of high school challenges their relationship. After Scarlett’s boyfriend is killed in a car accident, she finds out she is also carrying his child. Halley tries her best to support Scarlett through this difficult time, simultaneously dealing with a controlling mother and a dying grandmother, all while covertly dating a needy and volatile boy named Macon. The book is a meditation on the enduring value of friendship during one’s difficult teenage years.

The first part of the novel introduces Halley and Scarlett at the beginning of summer vacation after their sophomore year of high school. Next door neighbors and coworkers at Milton’s Market, they are in a constant, mostly positive dialogue about their respective difficulties: Scarlett has started quietly dating a boy named Michael Sherwood, hiding it from his jealous ex-girlfriend, and Halley is about to be sent away to a quasi-religious summer camp by her mother, who is trying to micromanage the way she socializes and develops as a teenager.

At camp, Halley receives an emergency phone call from Scarlett, who tells her that Michael has died in a car accident. Despite her mother’s protests, Halley gets permission to come home and spend time with her. They attend Michael’s funeral, where Scarlett has to mourn the gravity of her loss of Michael in private, while his ex-girlfriend openly mourns. On the way home, they see Michael’s best friend Macon walking in the rain. A few days later on the first day of junior year, Scarlett feels sick and withdrawn. Meanwhile, Halley runs into Macon, and immediately develops a crush, perceiving him as spontaneous and fun. He invites her to a party that night.

Halley goes with Scarlett to the party, where Macon is nowhere in sight. Later, she discovers that he has been fooling around in the attic, and kisses him in the porch as her ex-boyfriend, Noah Vaughn, peers through the kitchen window. In the following days, Macon shows up randomly, including once at her house, where he brings a lawn mower to help with the yard work. Halley’s father is pleased, but her mother is irritated that Macon is helping her circumvent her chore duties.

Part two begins when Scarlett pulls Halley into a bathroom at work, announcing that she is pregnant with Michael’s baby. Initially panicking, they resolve to tell Scarlett’s mom, who immediately sets up an abortion appointment. At the abortion clinic, Scarlett gets cold feet and calls Halley to come get her. Halley asks Macon to use his car and they drive together to the clinic. In transit, Halley’s mother sees them and thinks they are playing hooky. She and Scarlett’s mother communicate and ground them both.

As Scarlett’s pregnancy progresses, it puts new pressures on her relationship with Halley, consequently straining Halley’s relationship with Macon. Macon frequently requests sex from Halley, growing distant when she repeatedly conveys that she doesn’t feel ready, especially with the fresh memory of Scarlett’s difficult pregnancy and fear of abortion. Her mother forces her to stop seeing Macon despite never meeting him herself. These tensions escalate when a classmate named Ginny eavesdrops on a bathroom conversation and tells the whole school that Scarlett is pregnant.

Halley finally decides to have sex with Macon on New Year’s Eve. Scarlett protests, and they distance themselves from each other. At the party, Halley gets too drunk and starts throwing up, while Macon bitterly complains that she led him on. He drives her home and loses control of the car while in a fit of rage, crashing the car. While Macon is relatively unscathed, Halley suffers serious injuries. Her mother blames Halley for putting herself in Macon’s responsibility, and Macon vanishes again.

In the final part of the novel, Halley returns home from the hospital. Macon soon appears at her window and professes his love. Her mother sees Macon leave and shouts at Halley. Halley explains some of the complexities of their relationship, and her mother finally appreciates some of her perspective on Macon and Scarlett. They resolve to get along better.

At prom, Macon shows up with a new girlfriend. Halley goes with her former boyfriend, Noah. Elizabeth drunkenly tells Halley that Macon loves her, but just as an argument erupts, they learn that Scarlett is in labor. Macon transports them all to the hospital, where Halley’s mother soon arrives and helps Scarlett through the labor process. Scarlett names the baby Grace Halley Thomas, and an extended group of high school friends arrives in support of her.

Happy at the successful birth and optimistic about the baby’s future, Halley walks home alone, content at last and relieved that the tension of Scarlett’s pregnancy that has underlined their relationship is finally released. Having overcome the traumas of birth and death and the obstacles of close friendship, they end as stronger friends than when they began.