Iíve always heard that there is a special feeling you get when you read a Sarah Dessen novel. Some say itís a feeling like coming home. Other say that itís a sensation you only get from the perfect beach read. Luckily, I think I recently discovered when this feel is like for me: itís a feeling of warmth as if you were slipping underneath your favorite fuzzy blanket and settling in for the night. That is the feeling that I got from reading The Moon and More, my first Sarah Dessen novel.
Emaline has always dreamt of having a summer vacation filled with excitement like the tourists she sees coming to her hometown of Colby. However, it doesnít appear like that is going to happen this summer when she is tuck handling out towels and other random vacation accessories at her familyís beachside properties. Sheís positive that this summer will be just like all the others as she spends her days before college working and hanging out with her boyfriend Luke.† And sheís mostly right Ö that is until she encounters Theo a young film student staying at one of the properties with his boss, a film director trying to create a documentary about an elusive artist living in Colby. Before long Emaline finds herself attracted to Theo, the young film student, and all of his visions of a bigger and more sophisticated life outside of Colby. Add in the fact that her estranged father is in town with her half brother, and suddenly this summer doesnít seem to be so much like the others before.
As a main character, Emaline shines. She has a good head on her shoulders along with some good friends and for the most part a good family. Her family life is a bit complicated but it keeps the book interesting. She has spent most of her life with her mother, step-father, and two step-sisters with her father sprinting in and out of her life depending on what was going on at the time. Sheís never really depended on him especially since the one time that she did he let her down in one of the worst ways imaginable. Emaline is on the verge of leaving her hometown and becoming independent in college but first she must survive the summer. And in order to survive the summer, she must figure out how to make that ever so awkward transition from young girl to young woman. You know the one where you have to figure out how to let the past go and move on into an even brighter future? Yeah, thatís the one and as anyone knows who has ever experienced it; itís definitely not an easy transition to go through.
I could really relate to Emaline because I had to go through that type of transition myself. I think even at 26 years old Iím still kind of going through that transition. Why? Because there is a part of me that wants desperately to hold onto the small town life that Iíve always known, even after college but, there is a big part of me that wants to move on and move away from this place. Iíve never really known how to do it, and even when I was away at college, I was still coming home at certain points, so I never necessarily got the complete break I may have needed to move on. Not to say I need a total break from my hometown but sometimes I canít help but wonder what would happen if I didnít have it so easily close to me to be pulled back in, you know? Still regardless like Emaline Iíve learned that things donít always necessarily come easily and that you must take the bad along with the good in order to truly find your path in life.
What I really liked about The Moon and More was the way that the coming age story was the focus. Yes, there was a bit of a love triangle but honestly I never really felt my attention was being held on that. I wasnít ďTeam LukeĒ or ďTeam TheoĒ but instead I was ďTeam EmalineĒ. My feelings were being held by what Emaline was thinking and feeling and how she was developing as a character. I guess in part this was related to the love triangle but to me that was just a process that she had to go through in order to discover who she was really was and where she was really heading. Likewise, the interactions with the family and in particularly her father and step-brother did the same things for me. I liked how the interactions with them and others around her began to show Emaline the type of person that she did not want to become. Also, her step brother was the cutest thing! He made me smile by doing the simplest things in the book.
All in all, I can definitely see what Sarah Dessenís books are so popular. As I said before, reading The Moon and More gave the sensation of pulling a warm blanket over me and comfortably snuggling right in. It had just the right amount of fluff but still wasnít afraid to throw in a few difficult situations that made the characters (in particular Emaline) grow and develop. The situations are not far fetched either, they are entirely relatable to someone who may be reading this book from a young adult perspective. Growing up is never an easy thing but to me it was always more enjoyable when there were books or characters out there that I felt I could share my experience with. I could live vicariously through them and for me Emaline was easily a character I could see myself sharing my young girl to young adult transitional story with. I think we could have made a good pair, and I would easily recommend you check out her story too.
Disclosure: Borrowed from local library
Other reviews of The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen:
Tripping Over Books: “THE MOON AND MORE is a really solid contemporary, friends.”