Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
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.
Sarah Dessen’s latest book, and the last one to read for my Summer of Sarah Dessen challenge! It definitely had some of the things I like about her later books (namely, fun secondary characters!), but it wasn’t my favorite from her.
Emaline was an interesting enough protagonist. She seemed unique enough that I think I’ll remember her from the large assortment of Dessen protagonists, but you never really know. She’s in a transition period in her life, and I’m not sure we always get who she really is, because she’s trying to figure it out just as much as we are.
The romance is interesting enough. Emaline starts the book off with a “perfect” boyfriend, which makes it hard to believe that she’ll end up with the “sophisticated” and “exciting” Theo mentioned in the summary, but the cracks in her relationship quickly appear. Luke may be a great guy, but their relationship isn’t solid, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler (but you may think different, so fair warning) to say that they end up breaking up and Emaline gets together with Theo. That’s not that interesting or surprising. No, the interesting things with the romance, at least in my opinion, happen near the end of the book.
OK, now there are DEFINITELY SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH! AVOID IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED! After the initial honeymoon period, Theo started bugging him. He was often looking down on Emaline’s way of life and her small town without even realizing that he was doing so. There were times I saw bits of myself in Theo, and it both made me sad about myself and ticked off at Theo for making me feel that way. He’s not a bad guy, but he is quite misguided in ways. Initially this was a major problem for me because I figured, like in most Dessen novels, Emaline would finish the book with this guy, because I’ve only read a handful of Dessen novels that end with the protagonist single, and those were all her earlier books. I was resigned to the fact that Emaline would end up with this guy and they’d have a happily ever after and such and such. BUT, things changed. Emaline actually realized that her relationship with Theo wasn’t worked, and it ended! And, even though there were signs that she might end up with Luke again, the ending was ambiguous and Emaline made it clear that she wanted to find herself in college before she thought about starting up a relationship with Luke again. All in all, the ending left me feeling very satisified with the story. OK, IT’S SAFE TO READ NOW, NO MORE SPOILERS!
So, secondary characters. Like most Dessen novels, this book had some great secondary characters that kept me entertained when the main storyline or romance were boring me. There are Emaline’s friends, her half-brother, her (adopted) sisters, her “dad” (not her father – bit confusing at times because her dad is the man her mother married while her father is her biological father and the father of her half-brother – don’t worry, it’s less confusing when you read it), the man at the center of the documentary. All in all, they tended to keep me entertained.
I just had trouble really caring about the main plot at times, and this is what kept the book from getting a higher rating. It was enjoyable enough, but it wasn’t a new favorite. I really liked the ending, though, as you can reading in the spoiler-ific paragraph above. Now that I’ve read all of Dessen’s published books (all in one summer!), I definitely plan on checking out future books from her, if only for the memorable secondary characters.