Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: June 4th 2013 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: Finished copy sent by the publisher for an honest review (and in celebration of all things Sarah Dessen!)
"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.
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."
First line: "Here they come."
Thoughts: It truly isn't summer until you read one of Sarah Dessen's novels, and THE MOON AND MORE is one of the many reasons why. This novel offers readers another memorable experience in the beach town of Colby, through the eyes of a heroine on the verge of finding herself. It asks the question we all ask ourselves at one point: Am I content with my life or is there more out there to discover?
Emaline (LOVE that name- Sarah has the best character names!) is spending her last summer before college working at Colby Realty. Though she lives with her stepdad, her absentee biological father still influences her life and has always instilled this dreamer inside of her. She's been accepted into an Ivy League College, yet she cannot afford to go. It still has her questioning whether her life in Colby (which she loves) is good enough or if she's destined for greater things. Is she okay spending the next four years (possibly rest of her life) in this small town or should she explore the big city life?
What I loved about Emaline is that she goes through the struggles we all do at her age and sometimes even later in life. She's always been the responsible, practical sort, but this summer feels different. Even her relationship with her boyfriend Luke feels strained. Despite Theo's appearance and how he may have been the catalyst for this, these questions were bound to pop into her mind. I loved watching her grow and explore other options outside the plan that's laid out for her. I truly didn't know which path she would take and adored exploring this journey.
This novel is also about family. Emaline lives in a very modern family. What I mean by this is she has her stepdad, stepsisters, half siblings, and a father who isn't much of a dad at all. I loved that the author went down this path, because this is what a lot of families look like nowadays. Emaline went through conflicts with her family, but she's also a teenager. That's just what happens sometimes. Her family has layers, and I cherished reading about each and every one.
Now, even though Dessen is notorious for all things amour, the romance in THE MOON AND MORE does take a bit of a backseat. It's still there, although it's not a dominating factor nor is it what makes this novel so grand. You have Luke who definitely fits into the perfect boyfriend category. I immediately fell for him and was initially cheering for him (knowing of Theo's existence from the summary). That is until he does something that had me questioning everything I thought I knew about swoony boys. Then you have Theo. Honestly, I never really liked Theo. I was annoyed by the fact that he was always criticizing Colby and found his overall appearance to be rather unpleasant. With these two boys, it had me wondering where the good Dessen boys are. Can't Emaline have a Dexter or Eli? I mean, Eli is from Colby. Doesn't he have a long lost hot younger brother somewhere? Please?
Overall, while this isn't my favorite of Dessen's novels, I still really enjoyed it. It's a great beach read, and yes, I'll say it, a summer essential. I would highly recommend picking up a copy of the paperback, only because i'm bias and love this cover the best.