Book Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

The Moon and More

I have been waiting for Sarah Dessen’s newest book The Moon and More to be released for months. Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite author’s and her books have never let me down, until now.

Emaline is a typical high school graduate about to leave for college at the end of the summer. She lives in a small beach town, Colby, and works at Colby Reality, a business her grandparents started right out of high school. Emaline is the youngest, therefore she has to do all the work no one else wants to do: check-ins to beach rentals, delivering towels to guests, and making sure everyone is happy and not breaking anything throughout their beach stay.

Emaline has two best friends, Daisy and Morris. She also has a boyfriend, Luke, who she has been dating since ninth grade. As the summer starts, Emaline wonders what it would be like to experience summer like a local: date a guy that is a tourist and hope that the relationship lasts past October. Her wish becomes a reality when she meets Theo, an aspiring film student. Add on top of this, a father who has been absent most of Emaline’s life, two sisters, a dad who adopted her when she was two, and a mother who loves her to the moon and more, and you have one confusing story with way too many characters.

I hate to say this, but it has to be said, Sarah Dessen really dropped the ball on this one. I have been reading her books since high school, and they are always so well-developed, so honest, and so endearing, and I didn’t expect anything less from The Moon and More. Since I have been reading her books for so long, and recently started reading her blog, I feel like I know her, and I feel like she’s my friend, (is that creepy?) and I feel so bad saying that this was a failed attempt at a good summer read, but the truth is, it just wasn’t a good summer read.

Many times, I found myself wondering who characters were after reading about them for hundreds of pages.  I also wondered why Emaline has two best friends, not because a person can’t have two best friends, but because neither character was developed enough to be a main character and a main focus of the story. Emaline would have been better off with one fully developed best friend instead of two half developed best friends. I hated Theo, the weirdo from New York, and I wanted to like Luke, but I barely got to know him, as well.

The only character I actually did like was Emaline’s half brother, Benji, who is way too smart to be only 10. I honestly think Benji was the only character that I really felt connected to. I also liked the Clyde plotline. Every small town has their odd ball, and Clyde is Colby’s. I like that he’s an artist. He reminds me of my dad; stubborn about his art, even when everyone is telling him it’s so good. I really thought his story should have been featured more, instead of wasting pages on Emaline running into Luke’s mom at the gym, and what new  construction project Emaline’s dad was working on at their house.

The end of the novel seemed way too abrupt.  For a book that is 435 pages, the ending could have tied up all of the loose ends at a slower pace, since there were a million problems in this story. Some issues weren’t even resolved, which left me with an uneasy feeling. When I finished the book and sighed from unhappiness, I thought maybe I just grew out of Sarah Dessen’s books. This could have happened since she is a Young Adult author, but then I read other reviews, and the verdict was similar across the board: this just wasn’t Sarah Dessen’s best book.  It is completely different from the books we (Sarah Dessen fans) all love: This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, That Summer, Keeping the Moon, Lock and Key, Just Listen, What Happened to Goodbye,  Someone Like you, and Along for the Ride. (I haven’t finished Dreamland yet, so I can’t add this to my “I love” list yet.) I hope her next book reminds me why I love her so much. Until then, I’ll just go back and read my favorites, which will help erase the pain of disliking the book I was looking forward to reading most this summer.

And I just want to add to this rant that I don’t like her new covers. There, I said it, and I feel bad about it.n I really feel like I need to apologize to Sarah for disliking this book so much, I’m sorry.

It’s funny how one summer can change everything. It must be something about the heat and the smell of chlorine, fresh cut grass and honeysuckle, asphalt sizzling after late-day thunderstorms, the steam rising while everything drips around it. Something about long, lazy days and whirring air conditioners and bright plastic flip flops from the drugstore thwacking down the street. Something about fall being so close, another year, another Christmas, another beginning. So much in one summer, stirring up like the storms that crest at the end of each day, blowing out all the heat and dirt to leave everything gasping and cool. Everyone can reach back to one summer and lay a finger to it, finding that exact point when everything changed. – That Summer, Sarah Dessen

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