My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Since my initial discovery of Sarah Dessen’s work when I was in high school, I’ve read everything she’s ever written. The majority of her books have been enjoyable reads for me, and “The Moon and More” is no exception.
Emaline is a resident of Colby, North Carolina, a beach town that features in a few of Dessen books and where other people come to make summer memories. Except Emaline’s whole life has been spent in and around Colby, and now that she’s about to leave it and start college somewhere new, she finds herself torn between whether she’s going far enough and whether leaving is a natural choice at all.
I thought that post high school discombobulation was handled really well, the sense that you’re about to start some huge new phase in your life without having any clue what to expect, was reflected accurately in Emaline. One of the things I loved about “The Moon and More” was how all the subplots essentially reflected that overarching theme. Emaline’s decision to briefly date Theo, a New Yorker with very different life experiences, her biological father showing up on the eve of his divorce, and the documentary project which focuses on a local artist whom Emaline knows all speak to that idea of some changes being acceptable while others aren’t.
The book itself sees a lot of transitions between character relationships–from break-ups and make-ups, to developing friendships, to family fallouts–and none of them felt forced or unnecessary. Like with most of Dessen’s books, I loved the secondary characters at least as much as I loved Emaline as the protagonist. Their agendas and concerns and ambitions were all believable and easy to relate to. I loved seeing some of those agendas come together in the final few chapters.
The reason I only gave “The Moon and More” three stars, however, was a simple one. As much as I enjoyed the story and its characters and its handling, I never quite managed to fall in love. It was a quick, fun read and I’m glad I picked it up, but I never quite reached the level of emotional investment that I have with a few of Dessen’s other novels. I’m willing to bet a large part of my response has more to do with personal preference than anything else though.
If you’re looking for a fun, summer read a month or two after the fact, you should still give this book a try.