Sunday, June 16, 2013

Novel Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Rating (Out of 5): ~4-4.5
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Penguin (Viking)
Publish Date: June 4th, 2013
Spoilers?: Minor-ish.

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Something Specific:

  • "Nothing happens for ages, and then all the changes come at once." (Hardback)
  • "'Everything will look better in the morning.'" (Hardback)
  • "'Life is long. Just because you don't get your chance right when you want or expect it doesn't mean it won't come.'" (Hardback)
  • "It doesn't matter whether you're the one having to douse a flame or helplessly watching it sputter. Either way, it goes out eventually." (Hardback)

Sarah Dessen-isms (characteristics unique to this book, unique to Sarah Dessen's books)

  •  Easter Eggs. There are always little appearances from Dessen's other books, and there were many nice ones in this book. To name a few: Last Chance, Auden and Heidi, and Gert.
  • Morris. I explain him in the review, but he is such a Dessen character (much like Monica, from The Truth About Forever, is), and I just love him.
  • "Talk later."
  • The concept of a dater (active), and a person who just wants to hang out (passive).
  • Those are just a few, but I don't think I'm going to list everything, although I might add more later.

The Cover:

I actually like this cover. It's pretty, the meaning works with the story in a way. It's not overly embarrassing or anything. It's just generally pretty to me.


I’m going to admit, from the very start, that I am a huge Sarah Dessen fan. Have been since I first read one of her books, and will continue to be. Her books excite me beyond belief, I love all of them, and I don’t even think I’m able to give her books any lower a rating than 4 (although her first couple might come close—I have to re-read them first to find out). Now that that’s out of the way: this book surprised me in many ways, some of which made me a little wary and unsure of how I feel about it. But then, again, I also kind of loved it like I always do, and it has a lot of reasons for me to love it. I’m a bit conflicted.
Emaline, in the summer before she goes away to college, is starting to have some problems with her long-time boyfriend Luke. Her father, who she’s had a mostly internet based relationship with, is in town with her younger step-brother. Plus there’s this new, older boy in town, Theo, working on a documentary with a grumpy woman, starring Clyde, a mystery of a man who lives in town. Then there’s Morris, her best friend, and Daisy, her best girl friend, who are going out together, but going to college in very different areas.
First, Emaline’s family. I love the originality of her family situation. Her mother got pregnant with her when she was younger, ended up growing apart from her father, and then Emaline decided to reach out and get to know him, and has thus far mostly had a relationship with him through email, mostly talking about school. But aside from that, she has her dad, who adopted her and her mom married when she was three, and her two older step-sisters, who she all loves. And then there’s Benji, her father’s son, who she’s just now starting to get to know.
I loved that her family life was messy, and I generally just loved her family, and maybe even would have liked more time with her dad, who was so sweet, and Benji, who is just plain adorable. Her sisters and her fight and argue, but they’re very close. Her mother has a problem with Emaline’s father, but can’t really do anything about it. And her father is kind of a misguided jerk.
Now, the romance. That’s the main point that leaves me so unsure. I don’t want to give anything away, but it was not what I was expecting. I liked Theo at first, and then not so much. I liked Luke at first, and then was unhappy with him, and then really liked him at the end. And I understand what happened at the end, even though I’m a little unhappy with not knowing what’s going to happen between them, and even unsure if they should get back together or not. I will say that I’m happy with the growth that Emaline did in the book—she was in a very good place with herself by the end of the book, and I’m happy about that.
Lastly, Morris and Daisy. I liked Daisy, and was happy with her and Emaline’s relationship. But it’s Morris that I loved. He is such a Sarah Dessen character, I could tell from the first time he was introduced, and I loved him right off. Morris is somewhat of a slacker; he moves slowly, he does everything slowly really, and he has to be told, very specifically, what to do in order to do it, or he won’t do anything. And his relationship with Emaline is so fantastic. He’s fantastic, really. And I was so happy with how much he’d grown by the end of the book, along with where his and Daisy’s relationship was by the end.
The writing, the development, the characters, everything, was so great. I loved all of it—every bit. I didn’t want it to end, even as I read it in one sitting, not wanting to but not being able to put it down. Right after I finished, too, I mourned the fact that I’m going to have to wait about two years for her next book, and then promptly re-read most of Dessen’s other books.
I’m a little unsure of what to rate the book, because of my feelings on the ending, but I know that it’s no lower than a 4. It’s probably between a 4 and 4.5, really.

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