By Jean Bentley
June 24, 2009 at 08:59 PM EDT

If it would possibly stop raining at some point and actually turn into summertime (Mother Nature, I’m talking to you), I’d need some form of material to read on the beach. That’s why I’m preparing with this week’s Must: Along for the Ride, the latest from Y.A. queen Sarah Dessen.

The book, fresh off the presses as of last Tuesday, is about an 18-year-old insomniac who spends the summer with her dad and step-mom in a quaint beach town (so a synopsis tells me — I’m saving it for when I actually find a nice day to spend outside). I started reading Dessen’s novels as a teenage girl disappointed by the dumbed-down chick-lit-lite offered to my demographic. Now, even though I’m clearly not in the same age group as the protagonists anymore, I still find the books enjoyable and inherently relatable.

On the surface, the plots of the novels are similar: introverted teenage girl dealing with some sort of crisis (parents’ divorce, best friend’s pregnancy, sexual assault), meets a love interest whom she ignores at first, but when he helps her realize something new about herself, she blossoms into the butterfly she didn’t know she was all along. But there’s something about the way Dessen addresses the minutiae of teen-dom with out talking down (like how, at 17, every single thing your parents do pisses you off for no reason), that makes me connect. Hollywood agrees: Two of Dessen’s novels were combined into the Mandy Moore movie How to Deal in 2003.

What’s on your Must List this week? List up to three items from current TV/movies/music/books/games/online. Don’t forget your e-mail address, in case we decide to use your submission in the magazine. Deadline is Thursday, June 25 at noon ET.