Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review: The Moon and More

The Moon and More
Published By: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Page Count: 435
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

Emaline is from the small beach town of Colby, North Carolina. She loves life in her laid back town, but she craves more. The summer before she leaves for college will open her eyes to possibilities and show her that sometimes the grass is not always greener.

In true Sarah Dessen fashion, Emaline is a complex character who makes some choices I disagree with, but she becomes a stronger person as a result. I love watching Dessen's heroines grow and develop. Growing up is difficult and comes with its fair share of heart ache. Dessen captures this beginning and ending of life phases better than almost anyone else in contemporary YA literature. 

Emaline struggles with being in a longterm relationship with a guy, Luke, she has known since she was a kid. The two started as best friends and grew into something more, but the summer tourists provide temptations that neither Luke nor Emaline can deny. The two end up hurting one another and parting ways for a chunk of the book, but eventually find that their friendship is worth fighting for in spite of their broken up status. While I was frustrated with Luke for causing Emaline heartache, I found that their breakup and friendly reconciliation felt realistic. I did prefer these two together over Emaline with newcomer, Theo.

Theo is a college student who is working with a famous documentary maker to cover the life of a local Colby artist. I didn't like Theo or his boss, Ivy, from the beginning. They both had such condescending attitudes towards Colby and its residents. I hate when characters come into a town they consider "backwards" and try to impose their viewpoint on everyone. Small town does not equate to ignorance. Judging others based on their circumstances and hometown was a constant presence in this novel; it was apparent that those who didn't alter their stubborn views would come to unhappy ends.

This was not only an issue with Ivy and Theo, but also with Emaline's biological father. He has put pressure on her for awhile to attend Columbia with the promise that he will pay for her tuition. Once Emaline gets accepted, her father informs her that he won't be paying for school. Emaline feels cheated that he father won't even explain himself, but to make things worse he cuts off all contact with her. He doesn't even respond to her graduation invitation. When he comes to a nearby beach town for the summer, he reconnects with his daughter, but his judgment about Emaline's choices rears its ugly head. His attitude angered me more than Theo and Ivy because he should be supportive of his daughter.

The Moon and More is a critical look at family and the time in life when one transitions from childhood to adulthood. I recommend this one to fans of Dessen's previous novels or those who enjoy a contemporary with complex relationships and dynamic characters.

One Last Gripe: Some of Emaline's choices frustrated me - especially where Theo was concerned. I never understood her attraction to him. I also hated the way Emaline's oldest sister bossed her around all the time.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved watching Emaline learn who she was and how to stand up for herself.

First Sentence: Here they come.

Favorite Character: Emaline

Least Favorite Character: Emaline's Father

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. 

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