Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

the moon and moreVerdict:
Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publish Date: 4 June 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 448
Genre: Ya, romance, drama
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

Standing in a sandbox as grumpy holidaymakers throw abuse at you and middle aged women eye up your boyfriend; there has to be more to life, right?  Emaline is fed up with her monotone existence working with her family at their holiday beach resort in the small town of Colby. Her world is too predictable and she wants to have a summer well spent before University begins.

While some would admire the simplicity of her life – she lives by the beach, has lifelong friends and a gorgeous popular boyfriend – Emaline is still after the moon and more.

Luckily that’s when ambitious aspiring New York filmmaker Theo strolls into town, bringing his rowdy documentary boss with him, and acting as Emaline’s saviour to a boring summer ahead. Well, not exactly…

Despite having the perfect ingredients in allowing Emaline the chance to break free from her boring life and make an impact on the world, the book fails to really transport Emaline out of her comfort zone. Yes, the Emaline/Theo relationship does give her the chance to see the world through new eyes, but her idea of adventure ends stale as most of the ‘world’ is still confined within Colby.

Is this Sarah Dessen’s attempt at sending early messages to us that the reality is we will never leave the nest and see the world? The synopsis of The Moon and More works for us young adults because it holds this connective emotion that the world is filled with opportunities and we can grab onto them and God, run. Sadly the novel doesn’t fulfil this expectation.

Alas, what was most capturing about this novel (when you strip away Emaline’s sparking relationship with Luke) was the exploration between a father and daughter relationship. Emaline’s estranged father waltzes back into her life and it’s adamantly made clear that her wanting to escape Colby is influenced by her father. She adores him because he is a mystery to her. A part of her that should have been around and yet was nowhere in site when she was growing up. Just like how her father filled Emaline with disappointment when it came to choosing a College, he disappoints her right until the end. Emaline’s big dreams resembles her father big promises, both have little impact when it comes to putting these thoughts into actions.

Emaline was a character I wanted to see more fight and empowerment from. After basically aiding the whole neighbourhood in some shape or form she even ends up helping Thao’s boss, who she absolutely despised, as she was the Queen of all pushovers. With this in mind I thought maybe the climax would be her finally exploding at her father. But, no, even then the fizz she felt dissolved and she let him a way with everything he had done. Any other angry confused teenager would have shouted at him until their throat was raw.

The Moon and More might be trying to portray a reality of the expectations teenagers should have, but this is not really what you want to hear when you are like Emaline and want to escape. I would rather have read a book about a girl who at least attempted to have an adventure and failed, rather than a girl who didn’t try at all.


3 thoughts on “Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

  1. Great review, even though we disagree on a few things! I felt like Dessen portrayed Emaline’s adventure (or non-adventure) extremely realistically – sometimes life circumstances prevent us from venturing as far as we want to go, but we can still branch out the best we can. To me, that’s what Emaline accomplished by going to university even if it wasn’t Columbia. Also, I loved the father/daughter relationship, because the entire time Emaline was sort of silently seething, but at the end she did blow up at him, though in a controlled way. She commanded that he be a good father to his son, because he already failed her – in life not all our relationships work out but we have to make the best of them, as Dessen showed with the father/daughter dynamic. Once again even though I interpreted some of the characters differently than you did your review is super well-written and I can’t wait to read more of your writing!

    • Hi Thomas!

      Thank you very much for your comment. Yes, I understand what you mean about Dessen showing the reality of the situation. It is true that more often than not we can’t reach the moon and more – sorry for the unoriginal description – and instead we have to make a compromise. Yes, your right her blow up was controlled! I think I just wanted Emaline to eventually explode because she had to put up with so many things that weren’t her fault and it would have been good to have seen her release this anger at her father. But, Dessen did make Emaline’s blow up realistic in relation to her characterisation as she was a very calm character. Thank you very much Thomas and I can’t wait to read your reviews!

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

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