The Moon and More
June 4th 2013
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.
The Moon and More is, in a way, surprising for a Sarah Dessen book. It's no secret that I love her and all of the books by her that I've read so far (only about 8), but they are a bit formulaic. The Moon and More is the first book I've read by her that really breaks that formula, but retains that familiarity and comfort that reading a Dessen book can have, if you get what I'm saying.
It took me a while to get fully into the rhythm of The Moon and More (I keep on wanting to call it the Best After Ever, it's really annoying me), but I think that can be applied to more of the Dessen books I've already read, because it takes about 100 pages usually to get fully into the swing of things. I like the gentle pace of her books, because even though they can be slow, they're still kind of unputdownable. Like, I've just spent the past two days solidly just rereading her books (they are so good will someone please explain to me why they're so good?!).
Usually, with Dessen's books, there's also a swoonsome boy who all the readers will fall for because they're just so wonderful and flawed and pretty and *sighs*, and with a boy called Theo, a filmmaker's assistant no less, i was fully expecting to get my swoon on. As well as this, there was Emaline's boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Luke, who was less of a douche than I thought he would be (I thought it would be like another Jason situation). Really, though, the main boys in this book are Emaline's father (not her dad - there's a difference) and his son, her half-brother, Benji. Theo and Emaline's father had a lot in common personality wise in that they were both sort of about fixing people in the way that they wanted them to be, equating success with happiness, to sort of make up for their own failures. Sort of. And Theo is obsessed with everything being The Best, and he is sweet, but he's also an acquired taste, I think, and you can sort of tell that he isn't your typical Dessen boy because he doesn't try to be understanding in the way that they usually are. If anything, he's more the Jason.
The Moon and More is really, completely about Emaline's growth, and also about change and finding yourself and all those other things that things for teenagers are usually about. I liked Emaline a lot, and I liked getting to see Colby from a different perspective. Normally it's from the point of view of character who's just moved there (out of the ones that I've read), but Emaline has lived there her whole life. It was nice getting to see a place that we're kind of familiar with already (if you've read a lot of Dessen's books) from the point of view of someone who's spent their whole life in this small beach town. I also loved all the parts of the book with both her and Benji, because I fee like he sort of played the part that the swoonsome boy usually plays (not in that he's swoonsome, but that he's some part/the main part of why Emaline had sort of changed for the better by the end of the book). He was just so adorable.
There was also a great cast of other side characters, like Morris and Daisy, and Emaline's mother and her two sisters Amber and Margo. I kind of wished that there could have been a bit more between Emaline and her mother, because while the stuff that was in here was good, interesting parental relationships are one of my favourite parts of Dessen's books, though I understand that most of that was between Emaline and her father, which was really good to read. And Morris! Morris is Emaline's kind of hapless, slow-moving best friend and I loved him and everything he did and the ending was perfect and I'm so happy for him.
The Moon and More wasn't my favourite Sarah Dessen book, though I feel like none of her books will ever live up completely to the feeling of when I read Just Listen and The Truth About Forever and Along For The Ride (my first Dessen books), though I could just be being a bit pessimistic. It's still a really enjoyable read, though, and I enjoyed the breaking of the formula. It was a good move, and the right way for this book to go (though after having finished it, I really wish it would've been called The Best After Ever. It makes so much sense when you read it!)