Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Moon and More Review

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pages: 435
Keywords: beach, graduation, family
Format Read: hardcover (owned)
Goodreads | IndieBound
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?
Trusty Sarah Dessen is where I turn when I've had it with not enjoying books. Even if I don't like the characters or decisions, I know I can count on a good story and excellent writing from her. And that's exactly how I felt reading The Moon and More.

It's not often Dessen writes male protagonists I don't really like, but this was the case for both Theo and Luke. In fact, I wanted more of the character focus to remain on Emaline and her relationship with her best friends, Daisy and Morris, and her growing relationship with her half-brother Benji. These characters were the strongest and had the most interesting dynamic among them, and I really wanted to see more of them in the book.
Instead, much of the focus was placed on Emaline's struggle with choosing a boyfriend. Yes, there were some more things in there like discovering who she was and what she truly wanted to do upon graduating, but so many of the chapters revolved around Luke or Theo. I thought this was entirely unnecessary. Luke was quick to jump to conclusions when he failed to receive one response from Emaline about a scenario, and everything unraveled pretty quickly at the very beginning. He doesn't wait to listen or reason, so Emaline moves on. Super quickly. Which, you know, happens. But at the same time, I didn't see that much of a difference in the two. Theo, though he dressed and talked differently and was quite a bit snobbier, still never listened to Emaline and what she was saying, and he always jumped to conclusions way too quickly. It just seemed like an awful lot of the book focused on Emaline's struggle with the two when her real growth as a character was happening in all her other relationships.

The movement in the story was good, though, and the pacing was just right. The chapters focusing on Emaline, Benji, and their father were the best and most realistic. They delved into their relationship well, and I connected so well with that aspect of the book. And I know I mentioned it before, but I sincerely loved Morris and his kind-heartedness and genuine love for Emaline (like the friend kind of love). It was clear they had an important history—I just wanted to see more of them.

Even though I felt the placement was a bit off, the characters were still strong and Dessen always crafts a good story. The writing was superb, and the book itself was interesting and compelling. That's why I really enjoy Dessen's books; because even if I feel like I have issues with it, I still end up really enjoying the reading experience.

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