The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Published: June 4, 2013 by Viking Juvenile
Received: ARC from publisher
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.Reading a Sarah Dessen book is like hanging out with an old friend, there's something very comfortable about it. There's a formula to her novels that I've come to expect, but it's that familiarity that keeps me coming back for more, welcoming each new Dessen read into my world. I adore summer contemporaries and this one presented so much potential, that I was beyond excited to experience a new story from Sarah Dessen.
Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.
Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?
Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?
Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer. [goodreads]
We're back in the beach side town of Colby, which I am very familiar with since the last Dessen book I read was Along for the Ride, which is set in the same surroundings. This cozy little beach haven stole my heart, so coming back to it, with new characters and a new storyline, was such a treat to experience. Emaline (which I love that name, btw) has just graduated high school and is looking ahead to her last summer in Colby before she embarks on a new journey away at college. This particular summer begins, just as the last few have, working at her family's beach rental business by day, and hanging out with her best friends and boyfriend down at The Tip by night.
Immediately I was drawn to Emaline's family dynamic. We quickly learn that her mother had Emaline at a very young age, after a whirlwind summer romance with a boy who was visiting from the City. After the boy fizzled out, Emaline's mother found a solid relationship with Emaline's step-father, thus completing the family with two daughters of his own. Their family was whole, but Emaline always had questions when it came to her biological father. There were few attempts on his part at being present in Emaline's life, only to let her down in the end. I really gravitated towards Emaline's relationship with her mother since this was the one constant in her life that she knew she could depend on.
What began as any other summer quickly escalates into something Emaline never saw coming. What was once familiar and normal, is now changing, all within a moment's notice. With that change comes a new boy in town for the summer, he represents the life Emaline imagines for herself outside of Colby. The same life her father once promised to make reality, but only to pull the rug out from under her. All of these changes create new wants and desires for Emaline, and most of the time I felt so confused right alongside her.
In true Dessen form, it was the secondary characters who really stole scene after scene for me. I loved the family dynamic that circled Emaline. They created a strong foundation for her, but still had the tendency to shake things up a bit - as so many families tend to do. As Emaline's mother would express her love for Emaline as "the moon and more", that was the feeling I kept hoping to grasp while reading this story. There were definite moments that kept me turning the pages, but I never quite got that "I love this book, plus the moon and more". It was definitely a solid read for me, but I felt it lacked that over the top emotion that a few Dessen reads have left me with in the past. Over all, fans will enjoy this book -- the perfect escape for summertime!