Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release date: June 4th 2013
Pages: 435
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought at Sarah Dessen's signing!
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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?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I can't decide whether I should review The Moon and More as A Book or as A Sarah Dessen Book, since the second category brings with it a whole new set of expectations. As A Book, I loved it, but as A Sarah Dessen Book, I'm not sure - there's a certain scheme to Sarah Dessen's books, and Emaline's story strays from it, and I can't decide whether or not that is a good thing.

Sarah Dessen's books usually have very strong romance storylines - she writes the most swoonworthy love interests and realistic relationships. But The Moon and More... doesn't. Neither love interest brings the swoon we have come to expect; they can't even come close to Wes, Dexter, Owen, etc. Honestly, I found both Luke and Theo kind of annoying. But for the most part, I didn't mind too much, because as much as the description focuses on romance, that is definitely not the main storyline in The Moon and More; it's simply Emaline's coming-of-age story. In any other book, I would love the independence of the main character and how much the focus strays from the romance. But since this is Sarah Dessen, I can't help but be a little disappointed, too, if only because I was expecting another swoonworthy love interest.

In every aspect but the romance, though, The Moon and More is classic Dessen. Her writing is in a whole new category, and I'm sure I will love anything she writes. Emaline is another great narrator: she seems more mature than most Dessen girls, which I really appreciated. And as always, the secondary characters are amazing: I loved reading about Emaline's friends Morris and Daisy, as well as her unusual family situation.

I still can't decide whether I like the way The Moon and More strays from Sarah Dessen's trademark style - I love the message of independence, but missed the swoon we have come to expect from her novels. So The Moon and More might not be my favorite of her books, but if I disregard my special Sarah Dessen expectations, it is definitely a great novel.


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