How to Deal, a film starring Mandy Moore, was released in 2003. The movie, based on two Sarah Dessen novels, revolves around 17 year old Halley Martin coming of age in a dysfunctional family as she watches all the relationships around her crumble. Hopeless when it comes to the idea of falling in love and living happily ever after, Halley sees her parents' divorce and then find new relationships. Her father, played by Peter Gallagher, is a radio DJ who fell in love with his co-worker before leaving his wife. Halley's mother is having a difficult time coping with the divorce and turns to gardening and cleaning to air out her frustrations. In addition, Halley's sister, Ashley, is in the middle of planning her wedding to a man who seems completely unsuitable for her. Each of these events causes Halley to believe that love does not exist.
Halley's best friend, Scarlett, becomes enthralled with a soccer player named Michael. While Halley is quick to tell Scarlett that love never lasts and is worthless to pursue, Scarlett's infatuation is unshakeable. When tragedy strikes, Halley must help Scarlett cope with more than just a loss.
In the middle of it all, Halley turns to a boy from school named Macon for support. Macon is a playful, fun spirit who rarely takes anything seriously. She finds this refreshing, and the two embark on a relationship. A car accident shakes the relationship apart, causing tension and uncertainty for Halley.
All around her, Halley sees her friends and family members fall apart as a result of so-called love. The movie culminates at Ashley's wedding, where Halley receives some shocking news and rushes out early. Halley begins to realize that love does exist, but it much more complicated than she had ever perceived it to be.