Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: 4th of June 2013 (published by Penguin)
Reminds me of: everything else by Sarah Dessen
The Moon and More is classic Sarah Dessen in the way she turn a fairly mundane set of events into an addictive plot line. She excels at involving the audience despite the fact that there is little going on, which is an incredible talent. Usually I thrive off a face paced plot line, but Dessen is the exception.
The Moon and More is a sort of coming of age novel about seventeen-year-old Emaline’s last summer before she’s off to college. She expects it to be a summer of Lasts, but between the reappearance of her estranged father and a small team of film-makers it ends up being a summer of Firsts. Here’s the blurb from the back of my loaned edition:
“It looks like it’s going to be another typical summer there with her gorgeous high school sweetheart, Luke – until a New York film maker and her ambitious assistant Theo check in. They’re obviously after a story. But when getting the locals to talk proves tricky, Theo decides they need a guide and he’s got his eye on Emaline… Can Emaline decide where her loyalties and her heart truly lie before the summer ends?”
What resonated with me so wonderfully was Emaline’s character development. We’re introduced to the small beach and tourist town of Colby where everyone knows everyone and most importantly their business. There’s a standard way of living, standard careers and the standard social life so that Emaline feels the trajectory of her own life has been predetermined. She doesn’t think there will be any surprises in her life and acknowledges the perils of living in paradise. This has always been something that fascinated me – tourists waft in, take what they want and leave. The locals however, stay. They’re stuck and don’t have the freedom to come and go as they please. It’s an idea Emaline is always on the brink of envying and scrutinising.
Over time, but, Emaline sees that Colby is part of her identity. It makes up who she is, why she thinks like she does and how she sees the outside world. And she’s happy with it! The moral is your identity isn’t something you get to pick and choose nor is it something you should be ashamed of or find reason to justify.
What I love most about Dessen’s writing (and envy quite a lot) is her ability to seamlessly shift between the past and the present. Countless times her protagonist reflects back on an event, but there’s no jagged line when this happens. Just as her character slips into a memory, you do too. From cover to cover it’s an easy read and easy to get lost in.
Unlike Dessen’s other novels I didn’t find myself tearing up at any point (which suited me just fine) but it make me laugh out loud. I did tense up a few times as Emaline can be a little awkward but that’s Dessen’s intention. She’s very successful at evoking feelings from her audience. It’s a chirpy sort of book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Moon and More is about losing love, acceptance, friendships, and that nothing about life is a guaranteed certainty. This book is getting four stars from me. While I loved it, I’m still comparing it to her previous novels, and to me others rank as my stellar favourites. Unfortunately The Moon and More didn’t rope me in as closely as the others did, but nonetheless it was a fantastic read and I recommend to all her fans.