The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
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? (Goodreads)
Emaline lives in Colby, that sleepy beach town you may just remember from Along for The Ride (and oh, yes, Auden makes an appearance). She’s spending her last summer before moving two-hours away to college by working for the family realty business and finding moments to sneak away with her super-hot boyfriend of three years, Luke. Emaline is at a crossroads of sorts. She’s been raised by a man she considers to be her dad in every way, but something always draws her to the guy who is biologically her father. Although he’s been mostly absentee, he’s encouraged Emaline to think outside of life in Colby. And then there’s Theo, the NYU guy in town to work on a documentary being filmed about a local artist. He challenges her too, asking her to show him her sweet hometown and life inside it. Emaline wonders about the life people expect her to have–the one where she ends up with Luke and stays in the place she’s been raised–and asks herself what she’s really looking for. She’s hoping there’s somewhere in the middle, a place where she can aspire to all she wants and not disappoint the people she loves.
I really enjoyed this book. Dessen’s last one, What Happened to Goodbye, while good left me feeling a little let-down. This book, on the other hand, gave me that feeling I often have with any Dessen novel. I wanted to crawl inside and live in Colby. I wanted to see the sights, know the locals and walk inside Emaline’s shoes for a few days. She’s a good girl, sweet and memorable in that she’s so relatable as a normal young woman. Her boyfriend, Luke, had some seriously to die for cuteness, and Theo, well, he was different and sort of in a league of his own.
I liked the conflict Emaline felt; she was pulled in a couple of different directions, so fiercely devoted to the life she’s always known at home with her mom and dad and stepsisters, but then enticed by her father’s dreams of a big ivy-league education and life away from her home. I could see her dilemma from all sides. As far as the romance goes, I fear giving too much away here. Suffice it to say, this was not your typical Dessen romance. That’s not to say it wasn’t satisfying–it was–it was just not what I expected.
As always, Dessen is a beautiful writer, capturing the most normal moments and somehow spinning them into something wonderful and enticing. I’ll read anything she writes, but this one felt good. While nothing quite hits the level of The Truth About Forever for me, I really, really enjoyed this book. It drew me in and definitely, in those moments when I was too busy to read (what? I know), had me pining for it over and over.
Crush Intensity: 4.25