The Moon And More | Sarah Dessen | Book Review

When I read a Sarah Dessen book, I feel that the experience is akin to a pair of sweatpants. Bear with me here. Sweatpants are the most comfortable article of clothing, ever, at least in my opinion. Sarah Dessen’s books are the most comfy YA books. By this, I mean that when you open up a book by Dessen, you know that you’re going to get a quality contemporary read about a girl who isn’t too out of whack, usually with a pretty level head, although not all the time with a problem. I LOVE her books and each one I read feels like coming home. Y’all, The Moon And More definitely lived up to my expectations, and then some.

The Moon And More by Sarah Dessen | Good Books And Good Wine

It’s summer, obvs, and Emaline is working for the family beach rental realty agency. She has a perfectly comfortable life, living with her mom and stepdad (whom she calls dad) and two sisters. She’s been dating the same guy, Luke, since 9th grade. Yet, as we all know — things won’t stay comfortable and cushy for long. Emaline’s estranged father shows up in Colby for the summer and we find out that there are a lot of unresolved issues between the two – mainly centering around Emaline’s potential for going to Columbia University. To further complicate matters, one of the renters is a famous documentary filmmaker named Ivy and she’s doing a documentary on Clyde, one of the island residents who used to be a well-regarded artist. Also. Ivy is a pain in the ass. BUT she also has a kind of socially awkward, cute assistant named Theo who thinks that Emaline is destined for bigger things than Colby.

Emaline is a total Dessen protagonist and I mean that in the greatest possible way. She has a good head on her shoulders, she has good friends, an interesting family, and is at a crossroads. She’s on the verge of leaving and becoming independent in college, East U. This is her last summer before school, to state the obvious. Emaline does a ton of internal reflection and we see that she’s making that awkward transition from past to future. I think if you’ve gone away to college or experienced a major life change that involved leaving home, you’ll understand what I mean. Anyways, on the one hand Theo and her father say that she’s too good for Colby, she’s too smart to stick around. On the other hand, there’s so much that Emaline LOVES about Colby and so she’s conflicted about her future. And well, I don’t want to go too much more in depth because spoilers are the worst for brand new books.

YOU GUYS! I am so excited to return to Colby. I absolutely loved Along For The Ride, so it was nice to return to a familiar location. We get to revisit the bike shop and the all night laundromat/cafe. It is awesome. PLUS! We get to see characters from Along For The Ride again. Anyways, this book made me want to take some of my vacation time and spend it on the beach riding bikes and eating shrimp burgers. I have to say, Dessen really does the beach setting very well. OH OH and while we’re talking about Easter eggs, our favorite fictional social network makes an appearance and there’s a few more you will spot and be glad to be in on the reference as the super fans you all are.

Of course, there are boys in The Moon And More, not just one but TWO! Luke is Emaline’s long time boyfriend and he’s pretty adorable. He’s apparently good looking without a shirt. Kids love him. And he gets along very, very well with others. However, the spark between Luke and Emaline seems to have faded out. Enter Theo. He’s pretty much a hipster, or that’s my impression of him because he wears girl jeans. Anyways, Theo is totally awkward, but he’s ambitious and has big dreams. He might be a contendor for Emaline’s heart, but yes, you’ll have to read to find out. Although, to be honest, I thought the love interests weren’t nearly as important as Emaline and her coming of age.

When it came to swooning and The Moon And More, I actually swooned WAY HARDER for the supporting couple of Daisy and Morris. They definitely are not the lead characters, however, their relationship is solid. PLUS, they are just so different. Morris is not exactly what you would call ambitious, he’s slow moving,  but he’s a super nice guy and genuine. Daisy, on the other hand, is a super achiever and really into art and fashion. You’d think their coupling would be weird and off, but it’s actually quite sweet and one of my favorite things about Dessen’s latest.

This book didn’t feel a page over 200 — despite actually having over 400 pages. What I mean by this is that I inhaled Dessen’s prose, as one does when reading her books. I was so caught up in the drama between Emaline and her estranged father. But then I was also absorbed by all of the side characters, from Benji the awesome little brother to Amber, the dramatic hair stylist character, to Ivy and Clyde and Daisy and Morris. Seriously, one thing Dessen never skimps on is character. ALSO! The parent/child relationship in The Moon And More is wonderful. Emaline’s big crazy blended family all really care for one another and are supportive of each other when you get down to it. Also, you guys totally need to meet Emaline’s grandmother. She’s the bomb. (Well, if people still said THE BOMB)

Basically you can just boil this whole long review to this: you should definitely preorder The Moon And More by Sarah Dessen. Actually I am pretty sure that a few of you were already going to do that. It’s another great addition to your Dessen collection — especially if you loved Along For The Ride and Lock And Key. I fell in love with this book and really appreciate that it was about SO MUCH MORE than cute boys and swooning, but about actual things that matter, like the future and life and the paths we take.

Disclosure: Received for review
FYI: For more about The Moon And More, check out Sarah Dessen’s Blog Tour Stop HERE

Other reviews of The Moon And More by Sarah Dessen:

Chick Loves Lit – “Fans of Dessen won’t be disappointed

Books by Sarah Dessen:
Along For The Ride

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Aww, yay. This sounds so good! 🙂 I still haven’t finished reading Dessen’s last novel. School is a huge pain. 🙁

  2. I’ve only read three Sarah Dessen books, which is sad (because they’re awesome and I’m slacking), but also happy (because there are so many left for me to read). I’m glad this one was a win. The last one I read was totally not the Sarah Dessen book you describe. That girl was so far out of whack. Dreamland was literally one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read. The other two were dark but ultimately uplifting.

    Oh yay, supporting couple swoon! That’s what I did in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Her best friends had the cutest relationship.

    • That is SUPER sad. Yeah, Dreamland is SO different from her other books, but honestly I loved it. And you know, you’re point about them being dark but ultimately uplifting is dead on, and I think makes a great point.

      AHHHH! YES! Zuzana and her boyfriend, so adorable even though I am blanking on his name hahaha.

  3. It has been way too long since I read a Sarah Dessen… I think I made the mistake of reading too many right after one another last year and they lost their stamina for me. So it’s pretty much the perfect moment for this new book to come out… although not an auto-buy for me… so I will pray for a very generous friend or my library to have it.

    In the meantime, I did get a copy of Along for the Ride for the holidays and I bought another at a used bookstore a few months ago. I should dive into one of those soon to prep for this one.

    I have to say, I love the redesigns of her covers. This one jumps out to me so much time and time again… (sadly all the copies I own are the old ones. boo).

    Great review! Glad you were super enthusiastic and that 400 pages didn’t feel like it at all. Always a great sign.

    • Ahhhh. That’s the worst and would burn anyone out. I did something a bit similar back when I was in college, HOWEVER, I was very stressed and so didn’t lose stamina which is awesome. I hope you like it when you read it.

      OMG. Along For The Ride IS SOOOO good! I can’t wait for you to meet Auden and Eli Stock.

      I am not sure how I feel about the redesigns. I have all the old covers, but I am okay with them.


  4. Ah to clarify… a generous friend to lend it to me. (Although a book sugar daddy would be nice too. haha) I’m done now! This is what happens when I haven’t had lunch yet.

  5. I love Sarah Dessen’s writing and I cannot WAIT to finally read this! I feel like I have been waiting forever! I too loved Colby and am so excited to read that it takes places in Colby and visits some of the locations and people we are already familiar with!

  6. I CANNOT wait for this one. I haven’t really missed my job at the bookstore until it comes time for new books by authors I love. I used to have allllll the ARCs at my fingertips and now, most of the time, I must wait like everyone else. Chomping at the bit over here!

  7. DOH! I feel like a silly for not realizing this was set in the same place as the first Dessen I ever read!

  8. You’ve sold me on this. I didn’t love Dessen’s last book, but you’ve just compared it to two of my favorites (Lock and Key!), so I’m ready to dive back in. And as always, you’ve been hilarious (THE BOMB! omg.). Thanks for sharing!

    • I kind of fail because I still haven’t read What Happened To Goodbye despite having it in hardcover and on audio. Someday I will get to it.

      Yeah, gotta love old people terms from the 90s.


  9. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve only ever read one Sarah Dessen book, and that was for YA Lit in grad school. It was Dreamland, which was wonderful, but also so very sad. I haven’t been in a hurry to read anything else by her.

    I do, however, have a copy of Just Listen at home. Hmm…

    • It’s totally cool, that just means you have more to look forward to.

      Dreamland is definitely a buzz kill, but it’s good. I think that the rest of her books are quite uplifiting though.

      OMG read Just Listen, that one is sad and great and Owen and awesome hahahaha.

  10. I have read everything by her. The Truth About Forever is still by far my favorite. i am off to pick this one up asap!

  11. I am so excited to read this and I had no idea that it took place in Colby…can’t wait to revisit again! I LOVED Along for the Ride, so I am glad this book is just as good. I love that you say Dessen is like sweatpants. You are so right….her books are so reliably good. I also love that they make me think too–not just fluff. Thanks for the great review–I am even more excited for this!

    • YES! It totally goes back to Colby which is awesome and there’s all these little easter eggs of previous books.

      Haha, I feel like a genius for coming up with that — but you really can rely on them.

      Hope you love it when you read it. 🙂

  12. Wonderful review, April! I absolutely ADORE Sarah Dessen and Along for the Ride and Lock and Key are two of my favourites that I’ve read (so far) … I really, really can’t wait to read this one! I’ll definitely be pre-ordering it. I can’t wait to swoon! 🙂

  13. Well. I already told you today how much I love the sweatpants comparison. It’s SO TRUE. I just want to be in sweatpants and read a Dessen book every day until forever.

    I’d also like to note that Dessen books (barring the first couple) are generally THE SWOONIEST books I have ever read. So basically I’m VERY EXCITED for the abundance of boys in this book. Even the awkward, girl jeans wearing hipster one who greatly resembles all the boys I know (I’m from NYC. Please. Someone send me a real, grown up man).

    I will say that I’m kind of excited in the change in tone in this one. Obv Sarah Dessen could write different versions of Just List or This Lullaby or The Truth About Forever over and over again and I would LOVE IT, but I’m excited to see a shift in the themes.

    Great review, April!! I’m already SO EXCITED I COULD BURST over this book and your swooning is doing NOTHING to calm me down (in a great way, I promise!)

    • <3333 that would be the absolute life, to be in sweatpants and read a Dessen book every single day.

      Yeah, some of her books are not swoony, but omg This Lullaby? Hello swoon city. Hahaha, just wait. JUST WAIT.

      The Moon And More definitely does shift in theme, but it handles it well and I think enhanced my enjoyment of the book.

      AHHHHH! Hope you utterly love this one. <3

  14. I rediscovered my love of Sarah Dessen last year, so I’m really really excited to read this one.

  15. I actually caught all of the references you made to previous Dessen books, which I think is improvement on my part. I am not as big a Dessen fan as everyone else seems to be, but I do enjoy her novels and am trying to bulk up my have-been-read list!

    • That is amazing! I do think that is cool that you were able to catch them all.

      I do think that her books are great to know about/read, especially for people who work with youth in libraries, because her books are so popular with teens, it’s good to know what you’re talking about.

      Good to know that you like her books!

  16. I have a love/hate relationship with Sarah Dessen, and I think your comparison to the sweatpants is perfect. I enjoy her books and the familiarity, but sometimes it gets a bit old, and the sameness of the plot flow takes over. I have to take long breaks between her books because of that. I really like beach settings – though I haven’t read ALONG FOR THE RIDE – and I LOVE that this one has great family relationships, and the issues the MC is considering sound very realistic and prevalent to teens at the end of HS. I think my next Dessen will be THIS LULLABY because I keep hearing about how awesome it is, but this will go on my list as well.

  17. To be honest, the only Dessen book I’ve read is Just Listen and I was not a fan. I would like to try reading something else of hers at some point, because I hate to admit that I can’t like a certain author’s works overall, especially when that author is so well-known and respected. This book definitely, and perhaps her others, sound like perfect summer reads, so I think I’ll try reading them then. I am interested by the fact that Dessen has returned to this location for quite a few of her books. I love finding easter eggs and references to other books, so perhaps I’ll give her Colby books a shot!

  18. WOOO! Reading this soon! I need a good summertime book to make me forget I’m in FUCKING WINTER AND MISERABLE. Seriously. It’s so gray outside.

  19. The fact that you named Along for the Ride AND Lock and Key at the end of this review has me extremely confident that this will be a contender in the contest for the top SD novel in my heart.

    But seriously, I LOVE the sweatpants analogy because it’s true. Sarah Dessen is one of my standby YA contemporary authors. Her stories always feel authentic, and her characters are relatable. I’m loving that family issues are the bigger deal in this book, and can’t wait to meet everyone you’ve mentioned!


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