Thursday, October 17, 2013
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen | Book Review
AUTHOR: Sarah Dessen
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Viking Juvenile / 2013
Goodreads / Author's Website
Another week, another Sarah Dessen review, shocking I know. I wasn't joking when I said I was trying to catch up on her entire back catalogue, so when a new book was released at the beginning of the summer I obviously couldn't resist. However, life happened, things got crazy and I just got around to reading it. It's been sitting on my shelf mocking me for months. I've got mixed feelings about The Moon and More which makes it a little difficult for me to review. I didn't dislike it, but it didn't really grab me either. I'm a little on the fence and while there are things I appreciated about it, it just doesn't make it into my favourites list.
The Moon and More is set in the fictional seaside of Colby (I think that's one of my favourite things about Dessen's novels, the beach). Emaline has been dating Luke throughout high school; he's caring and kind and everything she thought she wanted in a boyfriend, but now it's the summer before college and Emaline is no longer sure what she wants. She doesn't want to stay just as she is now forever, but she also doesn't want massive amounts of change all at once. She's still trying to figure things out. Enter Theo. He's an NYU film student assisting on a documentary about a reclusive local artist and thinks that Emaline can do better than Colby. Throw in some family drama surrounding Emaline's absentee father and that's kind of the story in a nutshell.
I do love being able to pick up a Sarah Dessen novel and know what I'm settling into. It's comforting in a way. She writes these incredible teenagers who don't go through anything super dramatic, but face realistic situations and just need to figure out how to get by. Emaline is this fantastic character who's worked her ass of in high school and at her after school job only to find out she doesn't actually have enough money to go to her top choice school. She's dating somebody who she likes, but maybe doesn't love. She's basically going through what so many people face every day. She doesn't overreact; she just deals. I love that Dessen creates these level headed characters who don't always make the right choices, but can serve as more realistic role models. Watching Emaline face just the twists and turns of every day life is kind of inspiring.
I have a feeling the reason I didn't love The Moon and More as much as I thought I would is because of the romance. It was just a different kind of book than I was expecting, with the romance playing a secondary role. Luke, the boyfriend and Theo, the new outsider, are representative of Emaline's overall life choices more than anything else. There's no great romance; there's the familiar and the different. Emaline's choices surrounding these two guys say more about her and her hopes and fears for the future than they do anything else.
The family dynamic is typical of Dessen novels in the best way possible. They're caring, but imperfect and super relatable. Like a lot of the problems they face aren't exactly out of the norm. I love Emaline's interactions with her mom, sisters and dad (technically stepfather) because they all knew each other so well and spoke their minds. They fought, but they also made up. The drama that really drives this story is between Emaline and her biological father. They were never close, but they grew apart when he failed to live up to some promises that resulted in her choosing to go to a school close to Colby. Their differences provide the tension and I just felt for Emaline.
Between the Emaline, her family and the setting I definitely think Dessen fans will be pleased with her latest. Sure I didn't swoon as much as I expected to, but I definitely enjoyed The Moon and More. The characters are super engaging and the drama is so realistic. I honestly love that it's understated; it's such a nice change from so many YA novels that I read. Like with many other Dessen novels, long time fans won't be disappointed, some favourite characters show up and there are a few other nods to past stories throughout. Basically, I think you all should go out and read it and enjoy it for what it is because it's such a comfortable read to get lost in.