The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Queen Dessen, Empress Dessen, and Rock Star of YA Realistic Fiction Dessen – all titles I whispered while reading this book, usually after the words “bow down to…” After ten previously published novels, Sarah Dessen still has that signature prose style of hers – just enough telling and showing to suck you in while establishing back story, a setting that sits in the back of your mind when you close your eyes, and characters that you can believe in.

The summer after her senior year, Emaline has only a few months left to spend at Colby – the beach town she’s lived all her life – until she leaves for East U. She has it all, in a way: an attractive and kind boyfriend, a dysfunctional at times yet altogether endearing family, and great friends who have her back. But her perfect, serene plan takes a nosedive into deep waters when her absentee father shows up after a long silence. Emaline meets Theo, too – a nerdy yet exciting boy from New York whose ambition may spark some of her own. Even with an SAT verbal score that got her into Columbia and a knack for knowing just what to do and when, Emaline struggles to hold on and let go amidst her last summer home.

If Courtney Summers punches me in the gut with her prose, Sarah Dessen takes me on a trip through the clouds. I could get lost in her writing for days upon days, weeks upon weeks. The irony is that her writing style doesn’t stick out too much, but that in itself is what makes it so apparent – how she can create a heck of a lot out of nothing. Colby with its eccentric residents and its few clubs felt familiar and cozy. Emaline’s family carried just enough issues to work out and her friends had relevance to the story as a whole. Not to mention the two romances within this book, one of which felt even more realistic than those featured in several of Dessen’s past stories.

Dessen takes on theme well too. The word “understated” comes to mind when I think of her work. While the idea of growing up and letting go to the past was obvious – not in a bad way, just due to Emaline’s tendency to introspect – I loved, loved how Dessen handled Emaline’s relationship with her father. Without spoiling anything major, Emaline learns an important lesson by the end of this book because of him, one that resonated with me on a deeply personal level, and one that Dessen incorporates with skill and grace.

While The Truth About Forever and Just Listen still claim the “best books by Sarah Dessen with unparalleled character development and writing” throne, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Moon and More to those searching for a light and well-written summer read. No matter what, I will always bow down to Sarah Dessen.


Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

28 responses to “The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

  1. I liked the way the whole thing with Emaline’s dad worked out. It was fitting and entirely realistic.

    And I think I have to agree with you on the two best Dessen books. I read most of her other books in a rather short time frame last year, and those are definitely two of the ones that still stand out a year later.

    Great review. You managed to capture everything I enjoyed about this book in a much better way than I did. 🙂

    • It was fitting and realistic! It’s great that you had a Sarah Dessen spree, now I feel like rereading all of her works, especially the ones that stand out to me… thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. Thank you, for putting to words Sarah Dessen’s writing style. It’s subtle enough to have no description, and yet here it is. Great review, and now I have yet another book on my list!

    • Thank you for validating my opinion of her writing style – in the end you have to read it for yourself to understand. (: Hope you enjoy this one if you read it!

  3. Peter

    A brilliant review. I’d never heard of Sarah Dessen and she is now on my list of books for summer reading. As an English teacher, I would love to read your thoughts on Dickens – say Great Expectations or David Copperfield; but, whatever you do keep on reading!

    • As an aspiring English teacher I will hopefully write about my thoughts on one of Dickens’ works in the future. I will definitely keep reading, thank you for reading and commenting!

  4. Paulina Czarnecki

    I love Sarah Dessen. Definitely gonna look this one up. Thanks for the review! (:

  5. I just bought this for £2.45, how jammy is that?!?! I can’t wait to read it. 😀

  6. *still hasn’t read a Sarah Dessen book and is kicking herself for it* This sounds like an amazing book. Mostly because I love nerdy guys and eccentric residents (especially eccentric residents). Fantastic review, Thomas! Now I will be sure to get a Sarah Dessen next time I go to a bookstore 😀

    • Lottie, I am shocked! I feel like you would love Sarah Dessen – may I recommend some of her works that I think you would love? If you go to a bookstore in the future, perhaps you should check out The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, This Lullaby, or Dreamland. Though you can always check out Goodreads to see which works sound the most promising to you… thanks for reading and commenting, as always. (:

  7. Ahhh just finished this book last week!! Loved it, but that’s no surprise since I absolutely love all of Sarah Dessen’s novels ❤ they honestly need to be longer so it takes more time to read!

    • Glad you loved this one as well as all her other works! Sarah Dessen is a wonderful writer – the perfect length, to me, but I agree in that I hope to read many more of her novels in the future. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  8. The Truth About Forever was the first of her books that I read and it basically spoiled me for all the rest…Just Listen was good too though, so it’s definitely second-place. 🙂 Eventually I gave up on reading her new books because I was always disappointed that it wasn’t “The Truth About Forever.” I’m such a book snob…

    • Don’t feel bad, I still remember trying to restrain my sobs after finishing The Truth About Forever in my cousin’s basement. Such a strong, sad, yet ultimately uplifting novel. Sorry you haven’t enjoyed any of her other books as much as The Truth About Forever – perhaps she will publish another work that reaches that height! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  9. *hold up hand for high five* Loving your review right now!
    Sarah Dessen is my favourite author. Just about everything she writes turns into gold and her characters are so realistic that it’s a bit creepy. I’m so happy you love her too!

    • *returns high five* Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors too. She sticks to her strengths and I can’t complain about that – and her characters are definitely one of her strengths. Always ecstatic to meet a fellow Dessen fan, thanks for reading and commenting. (:

  10. Well, now I know who I need to start reading. Your review won me over. Lol.

  11. I’ve heard many great things about Dessen, but haven’t gotten around to reading her books yet. NEVER FEAR! This shall change! I’m going to the library tonight so I’ll get one. Maybe Just Listen?

    • Yes Just Listen is a great choice! Or The Truth About Forever, This Lullaby, or Dreamland. While those are the ones that stick out to me all of her other books have several fans too. Can’t wait to hear what you think of one of her works when you read it.

      • The librarian randomly asked if I’d read her books and then recommended a whole bunch of them to me. She said the earlier ones are better?

        • I think some people enjoy her earlier works better, but it all depends on the person. My two favorites from her were published I guess in the middle of her current career, but I would still recommend her newer ones too.

  12. Pingback: Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen | Dani's Trekking Bookshelf

  13. Pingback: The Moon and More. Sarah Dessen. | Words That Flow Like Water

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