The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Number of Pages: 384
Release Date: June 4, 2013
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
I may or may not have literally jumped up and down when I got approved for this book (I totally did). There's just something about a new Sarah Dessen book that just screams summertime to me. The Moon and More was no exception. This book transported me to back to Colby, the cozy beach town where Along for the Ride was set. I could feel the blazing sun and smell the ocean. I could feel the lightness in my chest that only occurs in the summer. I adore the beach town setting and Dessen really brings Colby to life.
The Moon and More follows Emaline, a teenage girl who has just graduated from high school and is spending the summer before she leaves for college exactly as she spends all of her summers--working for her family's rental business (they manage vacation/beach house rentals) and hanging out with her longtime boyfriend, Luke, and her two best friends, Morris and Daisy-who are dating each other. Emaline feels restless this year though. As she watches the tourists that flood the town she realizes that she never has the carefree feeling of vacation because Colby is her home.
Things start to change when Theo and his boss, Ivy, come to town. The two are renting Emaline's family's newest rental property for the summer--a luxurious beach house that most people couldn't rent for a week, let alone the whole summer. Ivy is working on a documentary about Clyde, a Colby native who made a huge splash in NY with his sculptures, only to come back to Colby in an attempt to fade into obscurity. Emaline finds herself getting roped into helping Theo get interviews with the locals and taking him off-the-beaten-path to the parts of Colby the tourists never see.
Her biological father has also swooped into town her half-brother, Benji, in order to clean up and sale his family home. Emaline is the product of a teenage summer romance between her mother and father. She considers her step-dad to be her real dad and her bio dad to be her father. The two were never close when she was growing up, but began connecting by email over academia. During her last couple of years of school, her father began pushing her to apply to Columbia, promising to pay if she got in...only to rescind the offer when she did. Relations between the two are obviously strained when he suddenly appears in her hometown.
I enjoyed The Moon and More, and wanted so badly to love it. I absolutely adored Emaline's family dynamic. So often in YA you get these absentee parents and troubled relationships, but her family was so realistic and fun and caring. It wasn't a "typical" family. Emaline lives with her mother, (step)dad, and two stepsisters, but both her mom and dad deeply care for her and love each other. Her sisters were great secondary characters. Amber, the youngest, is the spacey one who hangs out on Emaline's bed as often as she can, while Margo, the eldest, is a total type A who has just finished a hospitality program and is trying to reorganize the family business. I loved both of her sisters. I loved her dad. I loved her mom. I loved the fact that the title The Moon and More comes from something her mother says to her (I love you to the moon and more). I loved her two friends Morris and Daisy and both their separate friendships with her and their relationship with each other. I loved little Benji and watching the two grow closer. I loved Clyde and was curious about why he left NY just when his career as an artist was taking off.
What I didn't love was Theo. I found him annoying and thought the scenes with him completely dragged down the narrative. Whenever he showed up, I would plow through in order to get back to the other people in her life. Unfortunately my dislike dragged down my enjoyment of the book considerably, which is a shame because I truly loved everything else that was going on and all of the other characters. Please take this with a grain of salt. I may end up in the minority here. Others may love him. And I sincerely believe this book is very much worth reading.
Overall, I would definitely recommend The Moon and More. It is a great summer novel set in an idyllic beach town populated by wonderful characters. Sarah Dessen really is the queen of YA and I can't wait to read what she puts out next.
*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*