The Moon and More by 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.
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This review is long overdue. I actually finished this book several weeks ago, but grad school summer classes have taken over my life and I just haven’t had time to post it. Taking what free moments I have to write this review because I so needed to!
I really loved the premise of this story. It follows Emaline, a girl from a small coastal town (I kept picturing the Outer Banks in North Carolina in my head) that has lived there all her life and is looking for a way out, namely college. For me personally, I found myself relating to Emaline on numerous levels. I’m from a small town that is frequented by “come heres” as us locals call them, especially in the summertime. Emaline’s home was frequented the same way, especially during the summer since her home is right on the water. My home just so happens to be on the water in the middle of nowhere, a destination a lot of city people like to come to apparently. Like Emaline, I never really saw what was so great about my area; sometimes I still find myself questioning why people come visit here. However, I had my time to get out of the area for four years (thanks college) and yet I found myself back here (with a new job as a high school librarian, I’d like to add!) Emaline reminds me of my high school senior self, which is one reason I liked this book so much. But enough about me…
First off, I’ve got to say what bugged me about this book. The main thing that bugged me about this book was how craptastic the guy characters were, mostly Theo and Luke. Now, this isn’t me saying they were poorly written; quite the opposite really, they were so well written, that I could imagine them and just wanted to smack them. Their attitudes got on my nerves and I felt so bad for Emaline. Yes, both guys had their perks, but holy wow, their negatives outweighed their positives. There were several moments when I really wanted Emaline to tell them off, but she held it together…mostly. High school and the time before college can be an incredibly confusing time for a teenager…no reason to make it any worse by having guys to make it that way.
The setting for this story was wonderful. Like I mentioned, I kept picturing the Outer Banks as the setting, making it a lot more real in my mind. I’m actually going to the Outer Banks in a few weeks, so I have a feeling while I’m there, I’ll be looking around the area and thinking “that’s what I pictured for [insert something from the book here]” ha ha! The small town feel to the setting made it even better, especially getting it from a local’s perspective. When going on vacation to a destination, you never truly think about how the locals feel or think about the place; you see it as a new adventure that’s great for a short period of time, when to them it’s for life and typical.
There was so much about this book that was true to life, especially for a teenager around Emaline’s age. Relationship troubles, worries about college or after high school, friendships, family woes, work difficulties, the list goes on and on. I believe that many, if not all, teenagers could relate to Emaline’s feelings that are displayed throughout the story. Of course, that’s another issue I had with this book…there were hardly any happy moments for Emaline. It always seemed like everything that happened was either completely negative or heading in that direction. This book takes place the summer before Emaline is to begin college…shouldn’t that be an exciting, happy time and not a morose, craptastic time? Poor Emaline couldn’t catch a break, I swear. At least she had great friends, like Daisy and Morris, to stand by her side. Emaline’s family provided a great backbone for her, even if at times they could be annoying (like hanging out in her room without permission? I might have blown a gasket if I had been her!) Even Emaline’s step-brother, Benji, was fantastic…can’t really say much for her real father, but that’s another story basically.
Even though there were hints at this book being completely about romance, I’m glad to see that family and friends took control of the wheel instead. Yes, it’s always nice to read about romantic encounters and all that jazz, but to have a YA book focus on family and friends is outstanding. I really enjoyed that aspect of the novel. To have such a supporting family like Emaline had is not often portrayed in books these days; while there were many moments when Emaline’s life seemed like it was crumbling, her family always had her back, even if they did get into several heated arguments.
The Moon and More is a fantastic summer read or really a great anytime read. Plus, I’m also glad to say that this was my first Sarah Dessen book and it certainly won’t be my last!