Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Moon and More: a review

By Sarah Dessen
Viking Juvenile, 384 pages
Netgalley Advanced Readers Copy
Release date June 2013

A review in 10 words or less: Idyllic coastal town  as perfect background for big life changes.

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?

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Emaline (another awesome name from Dessen!) lives in a small coastal tourist town and works at a realty company with her family that manages rental homes.  She's planning on a great last summer before college with her longtime boyfriend, best friends, and loving family, but plans change when a high-maintenance renter from New York pulls into town and Emaline gets a call from her absentee, control freak father.  The summer quickly becomes a struggle for Emaline to reconcile her dreams for something bigger than her hometown and the ties that keep her grounded to the coast and her past.

The Awesome
So much awesome.  Dessen always brings the awesome.  I already mentioned the cool name choices for her female leads, but there is also the amazing way the author connects new stories with previous characters and places.  Dessen also continues to create a setting that feels familiar, quaint, but stifling and small.

Most impressively, however, is Dessen's ability to avoid fluff.   Sure, her stories have romance, but they also have the characters facing real problems and responding in realistic ways.  Life can be ugly, and hard, and frustrating, and terrifying, and things don't always end cleanly with smiles and giggles.  But there's usually hope.  Lots of hope that tomorrow brings a new day.

The Not So Awesome
My one pet peeve with this book was the instant swoon.  I wasn't a huge fan of Theo...perhaps that was the problem.  He was different and new, so I understand the attraction, but that quickly??  Especially right after, never mind, I don't want to give too much away.

Sarah Dessen is by far one of my favorite YA authors.  Her books (and characters) are smart, heartfelt, and real.  They also make fantastic summer reads, probably because they're set near a beach, which I'm totally craving now.  Definitely find this title at your local library in June!  It's a great next chapter in Dessen's noteworthy collection.

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