Monday 10 June 2013

Book Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen.

Product details:
Publisher: Penguin.
Release date:  June 4th 2013.
Paperback, 448 pages.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 12+
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.


  1. I almost bought this one this weekend, but I decided not to because I haven't read any reviews for it. I think this sounds like the perfect summer read - not too deep, but not too shallow either. I'll definitely need to give it a go. Wonderful review, as always, Leanna! :)

  2. Sarah Dessen is like my auto-buy author, which coming from someone who gets scared to buy books which I don't know what they'll be like WHATEVER the reviews I may have read, that means a lot.
    I've heard this isn't as good as her others ones. But if you want a better Dessen book, my favourites are Just Listen, The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride (yep, it's impossible to narrow it down to one...)

  3. A Sarh Dessen virgin no longer! I like her stuff too! Might i recommend my favorite Dessen book to you? Try out This Lullaby next. It's got music themes (!) and a great protagonist, one that stands out from most of Dessen's other heroines.

  4. I would definitely implore you to read some of Dessen's earlier novels now, like The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, or Keeping The Moon. Those are my favorites of hers! I'm glad you liked The Moon and More!

    -Taylor @ Reading is the Thing

  5. Jenny @ Supernatural Snark11 June 2013 at 15:26

    "Also, I should
    mention that Theo is a pretentious tool and I cringed every time he opened his

    *snort* Love that line Leanna, I can totally picture exactly what Theo is like:) I have yet to read anything by Sarah, but like you, have heard her name tumble from many a mouth when asking about recommendations. I feel like I might have a similar reaction to you with this book, so maybe it's not the best one to start with. I did snag a copy at BEA though, so we'll see. Thanks for your thoughts!

  6. Liz @ Planet Print11 June 2013 at 17:18

    I've heard some mixed reviews about this book. Glad you liked it overall even if you didn't love it. To be honest, I'm a Dessen fan but I don't think I would love this one either, Theo sounds awful :P. Thanks for the review! :)

  7. Jess Hearts Books11 June 2013 at 19:22

    Theo made me cringe as well! I wasn't too interested in the love story in this book and rarely am with a Dessen novel. I like her books for the heroine and secondary characters and the coming of age story and beach setting! I'm glad you enjoyed your first Dessen even if it wasn't a favourite!

  8. I'm so jealous that you've already read this, Leanna! I really need to get my hands on it soon. Theo's attitude sounds like a real downside but I'm always willing to give Sarah Dessen books a try - and I agree with Jess, I love her strong heroines!

  9. I still haven't read a Sarah Dessen! And two have been sitting on my shelf for two years now. The Moon and More arrived last week. This summer's beach reads will have to be my Sarah Dessen novels! No way around them. Love that the story is set in a beach town. I heard that Along for the Ride characters will return in The Moon and More, so I'll read that one first.
    I hope I'll love Sarah's books as much as everyone else, but no swooning? MAJOR POUT! (hope I get it)

  10. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:23

    Although it was missing the romance I like in my summer reads, this one is definitely worth checking out. I'm looking forward to reading more Dessen soon. :)

  11. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:24

    The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride are the two that have been recommend to me time and time again. I'll have to add Just Listen to my list! :)

  12. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:24

    Oh, music themes. I'm sold! ;)

  13. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:25

    I think I'll make The Truth About Forever my next Dessen read. I keep on hearing great things about that one. Thanks, Taylor! :)

  14. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:27

    I think you're right, Jenny - this was maybe not the best one to start with. I rarely read authors out of sequence (especially since I know Dessen often has older characters make cameo appearances in her new books etc.) Lesson learned! Oh, I cannot wait for you to meet Theo! HA!

  15. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:27

    Theo is awful, Liz! I mean, I tried to give him a chance at first, but just...Ugh!

  16. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:28

    Theo is so awkward! So does romance not feature heavily in any of Dessen's book? I always like a smidge of romance in my summer reads.

  17. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:29

    The boys were kind of a downer in this one. I think a lot of people will like Emaline--I never really forgave her for the Theo thing. Ha!

  18. daisychainbooks12 June 2013 at 20:30

    I should have read Along for the Ride first. I'll have to read it and try to remember what characters showed up in The Moon and More! I loved the beach town setting! :)


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