Book Review: Between Us and the Moon

Between Us and the Moon 
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

Sarah (aka Bean) has always been the sort that blends into the background. It's hard to be noticed when she lives in the shadow of her beautiful and vivacious older sister, Scarlett. Bean has always been okay with not being the center of attention; she is content to lose herself in scientific research and facts. Science is the one constant in Bean's life and she pours herself into becoming the best astronomer possible. Bean's devotion to astronomy reminded me of my own obsession with history. I loved learning obscure details and using historical tidbits in conversations. In many ways, I saw my teen self reflected in Bean's personality.

Life changes for Bean when her long time best friend turned boyfriend, Tucker, dumps her on the eve of her annual trip to Cape Cod. Bean isn't sure how things could have crumbled so quickly between her and Tucker, but his parting comment about her observing the world rather than living in it stings. Bean decides that this will be the summer where everything will be different - where she will be different - she vows that she will begin to live rather than just exist in her scientific bubble. The problem arises when Bean realizes she doesn't know how to make friends or be noticed by guys. She feels that nobody would value her true self. In typical Bean fashion, she launches an experiment in which she will observe her sister and attempt to mimic her behavior. Bean even goes to great lengths to "borrow" her older sister's clothes.

The experiment leads Bean directly into the path of Andrew, a handsome local who works in the lobster industry. Andrew is beautiful, intelligent, and he likes Bean even when she spouts information about vegetation and comets. Bean is enamored with the way she feels when she is with Andrew and before she knows it she is caught up in a whirlwind romance.

The romance is where I got frustrated - A LOT. I loved Bean, I really did, but I could not accept that she chose to lie to Andrew about her age and took so long to fess up. Seriously, she is fifteen when they meet and he is pushing twenty. Bean allows her summer romance to mess with her brain and she pushes all logic aside to be with Andrew. No relationship can flourish when such a huge secret lurks between two people. Furthermore, I was furious that Bean never stopped to consider how she could ruin Andrew's life. If she truly loved Andrew, there is no way that Bean could put him in a position to ruin his life. 

I really enjoyed this book, but the lying made my stomach churn. I debated whether to give this one a 3 or a 4. I ultimately went in between because I can't condone Bean's actions concerning Andrew. She was selfish and impulsive. I liked that she started to assert herself and go after what made her happy, but she didn't have to leave behind so much emotional shrapnel in her wake. There needs to be a balance between the brain and the heart; Bean learns this the hard way. 

Ultimately, this is a coming of age novel that highlights how difficult it can be to find yourself and step outside of your comfort zone. I appreciated most aspects of the novel and still recommend it as the writing was beautiful and the characters were rich and multi-layered. I simply cannot condone the romance.

One Last Gripe: The last chapter felt a little cliche.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The relationship between Bean and her sister is a tumultuous one, but I found myself rooting for them to find a way to form a stronger bond. I have always been the older sister so I liked getting to see the perspective of a younger sister. It makes me wonder if my own sister felt like Bean from time to time.

First Sentence: "What's the point of doing all this math just to track a comet?" Scarlett says and squints through the lens of my telescope.

Favorite Character: Bean - most of the time, anyway

Least Favorite Character: Bean - the moments when she wasn't my favorite

A luminous young adult novel that evokes Judy Blume’s Forever for a new generation.

Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett.

Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.

Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this story about how life and love are impossible to predict.