Release date: June 4th 2013.
Paperback, 448 pages.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
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?
Just like the small beach town of Colby where she grew up, and where nothing ever changes, Emaline’s life has always been safe, steady and yes, a little predictable. This summer is no different: days spent working at the family’s rental company, and nights in the company of her boyfriend – local hottie and often shirtless- Luke. But this summer is a transitional one for Emaline; it’s the last summer before everything changes, and while many might resist that change, for Emaline, it can’t come soon enough. Emaline craves out of Colby, and maybe, just maybe, her relationship with Luke could do with a little shaking up too.
My first foray into the world of Sarah Dessen, The Moon and More is a charming coming-of-age tale that is beautiful in its simplicity. In the past, whenever I’ve asked for summer reading recommendations, Dessen has always been the name on everyone’s lips, and while The Moon and More didn’t turn out to be an absolute favourite of mine, I can definitely see the appeal. Dessen’s writing is beautiful, as is the fictional beach town of Colby which populates her books. I love beach settings, and being from a beach town myself I thought that Dessen captured small-town-life -where everybody knows your name and sometime they even know a little too much about you- perfectly.
Perfectly detailed too were Emaline’s frustrations with her boyfriend Luke – the boy who knows her so well that he sometimes doesn’t even remember her birthday. Ha! Typically lazy behaviour from the boy in the long-term relationship who thinks he doesn’t have to make an effort. I’m pretty sure that where Emaline’s concerned Luke’s report card reads: Must try harder. I liked Luke, though. He’s a very real character – just a typical boy, and as typical boys are prone to, Luke messes up. That’s not to say that Emaline isn’t to blame for some of the problems in her love life. Emaline is organized, responsible and very capable in her working life, which is just as well, because her love life is pretty much a mess. Enter Theo. An assistant filmmaker from NYC, Theo is focused, ambitious and sophisticated. He’s the complete opposite of Luke, and also, while feasting on sushi and olives and drinking red wine (Seriously – at that age most of the guys I know existed entirely on pizza and beer; sometimes just beer), he gives Emaline a glimpse of life beyond Colby. Also, I should mention that Theo is a pretentious tool and I cringed every time he opened his mouth. I could not stand this guy – and I really don’t know what Emaline saw in him. I didn’t feel any spark between these two characters, and in short, their relationship just did not work for me on any level.
Emaline’s summer, though, is not all about boys– in fact, there’s a serious lack of swoon factor in this book – mainly because Theo definitely did not make me swoon, and Luke, well, after a promising start, he just wasn’t’ around most of the time. Emaline’s fractured relationship with her absentee father takes center stage when he arrives back in town, and it is her relationship with her ten-year-old step-brother Benji that provides the most heart-warming scenes in the book. The importance of family and friends are also explored to remind Emaline that the people she has around her in Colby are pretty great – even if it sometimes seems that she can’t wait to escape.
The Moon and More is a slow burn of a book all about the little things. It’s not dramatic and it won’t sweep you off your feet, but as a feel-good read for a day at the beach, this one definitely fits the bill.