Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Emaline has it pretty good. She has just graduated high school with a full scholarship to college, she’s been dating her handsome boyfriend Luke since the ninth grade, and her step-father loves her like his own daughter. Still, the summer before college is all about change and even in the picturesque town of Colby nobody is immune. When a documentary film-maker arrives to do a film about a long time resident who was once a well known artist and Emaline’s birth father shows up with her half-brother it helps her figure out what really matters.
Fans of Sarah Dessen’s girl next door protagonists who realistically and relate-ably deal with changing family dynamics and the transition from teenagers to young women will not be disappointed with The Moon and More.
Emaline is a smart, hard-working, and capable character. Despite the fact that she dates two boys over the course of the summer she is perfectly happy to end up with neither because thankfully this is not a book about dating or which boy she’ll pick. Instead The Moon and More is about the difficulties of navigating home and our families (as they really are) as we become adults.
Emaline has lived her whole life in the beachfront town of Colby. She understands Colby’s limits, but doesn’t see it as somewhere she needs to escape from. She is very protective of her home and the people there. The setting of Colby, a location Dessen has used before, is very important to the story and is very easy to imagine. The Moon and More features cameos of other Dessen characters which is a fun bonus for fans and adds to the sense of place. The way that characters view Colby tells us a lot about them and a lot about Emaline’s relationships with them.
For Emaline’s father Colby is a detour and separate from his everyday life. Her sister Margo is a recent college graduate desperate to prove herself as more sophisticated than her surroundings. There is also the contrast between film-maker Ivy who detests everything about Colby, and Clyde who chose the life Colby could offer him over fame and fortune in the city.
Theo, one of the boys Emaline dates, is a very interesting character. He works very hard at the trendy city-boy image, but in reality he is much more sheltered from the realities of life than Emaline. In fact, Theo is the guy who tries to hard at just about everything with often poor results. Partly this is because he is unable to see anyone else’s perspective.
He takes Emaline on “exciting” dates to places she’s been hundreds of times because they are new to him and applies convoluted interpretations to Clyde’s paintings because he thinks it makes him sound knowledgeable and sophisticated.
There are some nice parallels there to Emaline’s birth father who is also focused on himself and only shows up in her life when it’s convenient for him and his ego. Also among the large but well used cast of characters is Morris, that “best friend by proximity” from childhood who we grow to have little in common with but know they will always be a part of us.
At it’s heart The Moon and More is about Emaline coming to an understanding of these truths about the people in her life, the necessity of change, and also coming to understand that she doesn’t have to subscribe to everybody else’s issues just because she cares about them. While there isn’t a ton of new ground here The Moon and More is a satisfying read that isn’t afraid to go a little deeper with it’s themes. This book is sure to be in high demand and is a must-buy for your teen collection this summer.