Emaline is at a precipice – she is going to college once this summer in her beachside small hometown of Colby is over.
This is the time to savor every moment with her parents, sisters, best friends and longtime high school boyfriend, Luke. He’s handsome, nice and there’s a comfortable understanding of each other that comes with being together so many years.
Yet comfortable is losing its appeal.
When one of her family’s rental properties is inhabited by a two-person documentary crew, Emaline meets Theo – a driven, wide-eyed New Yorker that is so very different than anyone she’s ever known in Colby. Theo makes it clear that he thinks Emaline is meant for bigger things than tiny Colby.
Then Emaline’s biological father is also in town with her little brother – and an event that occurred earlier in the year between them is straining their already less than close relationship. But, like Theo, has a vision for Emaline – a vison of Ivy League and getting out of the beachside town.
Both enticed by their ideas of a bigger future for her and the comfortable contentment of the status quo, Emaline finds herself looking for a balance…
My favorite thing about Sarah Dessen is how she takes regular, believable people and portrays regular, believable life events. It’s the quiet elegance of depicting family life, love and friendship that brings me back to her every time.
Here, yet again, we get that in spades.
A fractured relationship with her father, Dessen perfectly shows the mixture of hope, and frustration with that same hope, that wars within Emaline. We see her question the familiarity of her life, while also clinging to it. It’s a subtle, dramatic anguish that is leveled by a character that is not too over the top, self-pitying or immature.
I wouldn’t say The Moon and More sucker punched me quite as much emotionally as some of Dessen’s other novels have – but I am still a huge fan of this book. It’s a slice of life that offers wisdom, seemingly without trying.
Without spoiling anything, I will say that I was very pleased the way it all turned out by the end – and felt it was a refreshing, smart conclusion.
There’s nothing quite like taking a break from the ghosts, werewolves and vampires to dive into something altogether quite similar to our own lives and thoughts – something that breaks our heart but also inspires us – something that faces reality and shows us everything is not Happily Ever After, but everything is not bad either.
That is what The Moon and More is.