The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen ( web| tweet )
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: making college plans, family struggles, love triangle
Format read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Previous books reviewed by author: Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, This Lullaby (E), This Lullaby (M)
Summary: Post-graduation, Emaline finds herself struggling with what to do with her life. Does she attend the Ivy League school her biological father thinks she ought to attend or does she go to the state school where her boyfriend Luke will be?
I’m going to mix things up a little bit for this review because I have so, so many thoughts about The Moon and More.
+ The family dynamic is really strong from the details of Emaline’s biological father’s lack of responsibility to her stepdad’s strong involvement in her life and the craziness that is the family realty business. Her sisters, Amber and Margo, are polar opposites but are awesome minor characters that really added character depth to the story. Oh, and there’s also Beji, Emaline’s half-brother, who is ten years old and idolizes his older sister; he’s also extremely analytical and quite brilliant at solving problems.
+ Emaline was a very strong main character. She’s a smart, level-headed character that’s very driven (to an extent). Confusion creeps into her life when she begins to question what she wants to do with her life. Her biological father and the new city boy in town, Theo, want Emaline to expect more for herself, but she doesn’t want to grow out of Colby by going to some fancy school that will separate her from her family and lead her to have tons of debt.
+ Revisiting Colby was a delight, even though I felt I should have remembered more details than I did from Along for the Ride than I did. Maybe a re-read of that would have gotten me in the right frame of mind and I would have felt even more connected to the story.
– I really struggled with the timeline and sequence of events. There were areas that felt really bumpy to me and I felt they could have used a bit more finessing. (Disclaimer: I did read an ARC for The Moon and More so some things could have been changed in the final print version.)
– The language. One thing I’ve noticed about Dessen’s writing is that no matter the character, she uses the same dialect and phrasing for every. single. one of her characters. Every one. I almost started circling the repetitious parts so I could visually see if I had a plausible reason to be upset. In the end, I realized (sadly) that if someone had read The Moon and More to me in a monotoned voice with zero inflection or character changes, there would have been moments I would not have noticed who was speaking because the characters were indistinguishable.
– The length. The sequence of events in the beginning occur pretty rapidly. BAM BAM BAM — Emaline breaks up with her boyfriend Luke and begins dating Theo. And then things began to creep along for me. While I love following characters around and having a sense of what their real lives are like, there was just a bit too much of that for me. So much that it made the rest of the story drag and the end resolution felt a bit rushed and anticlimactic.
– While I mentioned how much I loved the inclusion of all the family members, I felt there were maybe too many characters to focus on here. There’s a whole storyline about a local artist, the crazy woman who is trying to film a documentary about him, Emaline’s best friend Morris (who I never really got), and so on. This was definitely a story that focused primarily on Emaline’s life and moving forward, but some things (like the kind of love-triangle) weighed the story down.
My book-loving-heart was so full of hope going in to The Moon and More, but I wish I felt a bit more satisfied after finishing it. In the future, I hope Dessen pushes herself to emphasize the important elements of the story, maintain focus, and to become a more diverse writer by breaking the mold and creating unique characters and language.