Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

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March 11, 2014 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Publisher/Year: Puffin Group Australia, 4 June 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Paperback
I borrowed it from the library!
Other books from author:
That Summer, Someone Like You, The Truth About Forever, What Happened to Goodbye and many more

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Goodreads Synopsis

Colby may be just a small holiday beach town for the tourists, but for Emaline it’s home.

It looks like its going to be another typical summer there with here gorgeous high-school sweetheart, Luke – until a New Yorker filmmaker 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 lies before the summer ends?

What I Thought…

Confession: I’m practically a Sarah Dessen newbie. Yes, I own How to Deal (Someone Like You and That Summer in one book), but I’d completely forgotten it was even by Sarah Dessen until recently… Whoopsies! So when I stumbled across The Moon and More at my local library, I thought I’d better get myself (re)acquainted with all the awesomeness that I’ve heard is Sarah Dessen 🙂 How beautiful is that cover! All of my favourite colours in one and such a pretty image, it makes me long for holidays and time off… Naturally, it was only fitting that I read this book in one day (in almost one sitting) on the recent long weekend we had in Melbourne. And what a great way it was to enjoy my day off from work!

Dessen has a way of writing that speaks to the teenaged girl in me, even if it has been some time since I’ve been a teenager. Emaline is going though some struggles in her life, trying to work out where she fits in with her family, and its dynamic is an unconventional one.  Her mother had her when she was in high school, after a summer romance with her father.  He left and didn’t really feature much in Emaline’s life when she was young, and her mum married another man when Emaline was 3 years old.  He adopted her and became her dad and she gained two older sisters, but as she grew older her father came back into her life when they had something in common – school, namely getting into a good university (or college for my non-Australians 🙂 ).  Emaline’s story picks up in the summer after her high school graduation, when she’s in that in-between phase – she’s not in high school any more, but she’s not quite out in the big bad world just yet.

Emaline was a likeable character for me; she had a good head on her shoulders and her relationship with her mum and her dad (as opposed to her father) was a good one to read.  Her father, on the other hand, had disappointed her, but he’s back on the scene for the summer with her half-brother Benji and she has to deal with that.  Through her job at her family’s realty company, she meets Theo, a boy from NYC who’s in Colby for the summer for work with his boss Ivy.  These two things change her course for the summer, and probably for the future as well, but she didn’t seem to compromise herself in the long run dealing with these issues.  I liked that.

The supporting characters stole the show, especially Morris and Daisy!  It’s not often that authors portray character growth in supporting characters, but we got to see that in Morris which was pretty cool.  Daisy was a really good friend to Emaline, and vice versa – they came through for one another repeatedly and I enjoyed reading a book where the friendship was even, rather than one friend taking more from the relationship and taking advantage of the other.  Benji was adorable, and it was lovely to see that Emaline’s relationship with him was not tainted by that with her father.  Her father on the other hand, what a piece of work!  There was no unconditional love for Emaline, only a view that he needed to ‘fix’ his mistake (ie, her) and the only way to do this was for her to get into a good university.  When he couldn’t pull through on his promises, he felt that he’d failed, even though Emaline still got a full ride to a perfectly good school.  He was pompous and arrogant, and I never warmed to him.

I also never warmed to Theo, and I couldn’t find it in me to be supportive of his relationship with Emaline – this was great writing on Dessen’s part, as I don’t think we were ever supposed to feel like Theo was a good match for Emaline.  He was rude, condescending and pompous, and he showed his true colours by the end of the book.  He also drove me COMPLETELY NUTS with his need to make everything the Best Something Ever(!).  Every moment in life cannot be a superlative, that would simply make everything redundant.  Dessen put best as follows:

The thing is, you can’t always have the best of everything. Because for a life to be real, you need it all: good and bad, beach and concrete, the familiar and the unknown, big talkers and small towns.

I guess my main criticism is that my expectation of The Moon and More based on the synopsis was one thing, but what I got was another. From the synopsis, I expected more of the Luke relationship, or even a love triangle with Theo, but Luke didn’t feature in a huge way like I expected him to. This story was more about Emaline coming of age, her relationships with her friends and her family dynamics than it was about her relationships with boys, even if that did play a part in story. This wasn’t particularly well portrayed in the synopsis, and it took me a while to get in to the rhythm of the book when I was expecting one thing and reading another. Also, this is nitpicking now, but Emaline’s name is spelt wrong in the synopsis, “Emeline”, and this totally drove me nuts! I even fixed it in the synopsis above because it was driving me so crazy.  I told you it was nitpicking, but lack of attention to detail is one of my biggest pet peeves.

All in all, I thought this was a pleasant read but it didn’t leave any long-lasting emotions stirring in me. This story wasn’t what I was expecting from the synopsis, but I enjoyed it all the same. Dessen truly captured that in-between feeling between high school and university, when you’re not quite out in the big wide world yet but you’re bursting to get there. I look forward to reading more of Dessen’s magic in the future.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

What did you think of this book?  Are you a Sarah Dessen fangirl, or a relative newbie like me?


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Hi! I'm Bernadette, a 27 year old lawyer who loves to read (duh!), especially to escape my day job. I love to talk about books but I don't always get the opportunity to do so, hence my blog! I adore YA literature, most genres of Adult Fiction, and I've also been known to pick up a non-fiction book from time to time. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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