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Review: 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.

Often times, an internal conflict can be easily solved when one attempts to be truly honest with themselves. There is nothing wrong with dreaming about the opportunities the world offers outside of one’s niche. Sarah Dessen’ s unique novels each display an unimaginably unique story that I can’t help but dive right into. I was immediately sucked into Emaline’s world as I realized the frustrations and decisions she was faced with are all questions that everyone has had to ask themselves at least once, including myself. 

During the summer before college, Emaline views the world from the sandy beach of her hometown Colby as the perfect situation. Between her handsome and witty boyfriend Luke, who has been with Emaline all through high school, a summer job at the family realtor office and two best friends to spend the summer with, why would she want anything more? The constant internal wonderment that occurs in a person who dreams at night about wanting more, is actually an outline of a person’s true ambition for themselves. In the case of The Moon and More, she simply realizes that her life doesn't need more, it needs change. Change is inevitable in all of us, but rather than facing it head on, she wonders what types of changes will benefit her, while hurting the ones she loves as little as possible. 

As if making decisions about the future isn't enough to think about, Emaline’s daily summer routine of work, boyfriend, obnoxious yet endearing family and personal thoughts keep her quite occupied. There seems to be a new puzzle to solve very frequently throughout the summer as strangers walk into her life assuming they know what is best for her future. Her estranged father suddenly wants to claim a right to helping choose her future college, and Theo, the edgy New Yorker tourist assisting on a documentary in town seems to view Emaline as a girl with much more to offer than a permanent life in Colby. Everyone knows that the summer after high school graduation is full of decisions and goodbyes, but Emaline remains conflicted as to whether or not she wants to say goodbye to her life in Colby and hello to a four year college far away from anything familiar. Once she realizes she has options to consider in terms of her future, Emaline begins to grasp the idea that summer won’t last forever.

Emaline is a young woman that makes the reader feel as though you are walking in her sand filled sneakers as she struggles with the contemplation between leaving for good or staying small and comfortable. Whether it is the relentless summer heat, the battle of estranged family members attempting to make themselves noticed, the pressures of a comfortable boyfriend or the intrigue of a new stylish tourist, Emaline has a lot to think about and not a lot of time to do it. Dessen’s novel takes the adolescent transition from high school to potential future to a whole new level. 

 Reviewed by Nicole Williams

Book Information
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication date: 6/4/2013
Pages: 384

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