Summer Jobs Week Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. Viking Juvenile, 2013. Currently Available.

Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

the moon and moreFace Value: I have to agree with the ladies of Forever Young Adult, and their assessment that this cover looks more or less like an ad for tampons. But we have been loving Sarah Dessen and not so fond of her covers since before we started this blog. So no surprises here, and it’s hardly even worth rolling our eyes at.

Does it Break the Slate? Totally! Emaline is one of my favorite Dessen heroines. Sure, she makes some questionable choices along the way, but she does so in a way that is really going after what she wants and who she wants to be.  Romance doesn’t play out quite the way it does in some of her previous books, but I thought it was really satisfying – and definitely Slatebreaking in the way it all plays out.

Who would we give it to? It’s a Sarah Dessen book, so it’s not like it’s hurting for readers. But I love books that take place in that transitional time between high school and college, and what they have to offer to their readers. High schoolers who are thinking about the next steps after graduation will find a lot to enjoy here.

Review: It’s summer jobs week, and nobody writes about summer jobs like Sarah Dessen, the queen of summer YA.  Whether it’s Macy’s job at Wish Catering  in The Truth about Forever (my personal favorite), Auden’s boutique job in Along for the Ride or McLean’s restaurant work in What Happened to Goodbye, Dessen has a knack for creating jobs for her characters that lead to self-actualization and general Slatebreaking awesomeness. True to form, Emaline’s jobs play a big role in her summer. When we first meet her, she’s standing in a sandbox, welcoming tourists to Colby as part of her job working for Colby Realty, the family business. She’s working there throughout the summer before college, as she and her boyfriend Luke get ready for college at East U.

While she’s happy to be working with her family, hanging out with them, Luke and her friends, and looking forward to college, Emaline has a lot on her mind. Her father has never been a huge part of her life – her stepfather has been a father to her since she was three and her stepsisters are her family. But over time, her dad has become a marginal part of her life, as the two of them find common ground over school, and the potential of college. With his support, she applied for, and got into Columbia. But then he disengages, with a cryptic apology for not being able to pay for her school anymore. Without that, Emaline ends up at East U. So when her dad and half-brother end up in Colby for the summer, she has a lot to figure out.

And then there’s the romance angle. Emaline loves her boyfriend Luke – he’s a great guy, he knows her, he gets her. But when she meets Theo, a young filmmaker working on a documentary about a reclusive Colby artist, he taps into all those outside ideas that the Ivy League did. It’s confusing, and exciting.

But here’s the great thing that Dessen does with this plotline – it’s not a love triangle. It’s the end of a relationship that had some great things and some not so great things, that might have ended anyway. It’s the beginning of a relationship that has some great things and some not so great things. But it’s not about “who will she choose” – instead it’s about growing up, and the different things we want from the people around us as we do. Though neither her relationship with Luke nor Theo is perfect, Emaline’s storyline as she deals with her feelings for both of these boys is unquestionably Slatebreaking. The book overall about her, figuring out who she is, at a time of transition. Accordingly, it’s also about the people who figure into that journey. That’s her friends, her family on many levels, and it’s also about these two boys. It’s part of it – a big part – but it’s not the whole story.  I also loved that sex is a part of these relationships, but it’s not a huge issue. Emaline has sex, and is responsible about it. NBD. Awesome.

I loved Emaline’s extended family too – it was great to see a really positive and complicated portrait of a stepfamily that loves each other. We see nuanced relationships between Emaline and her mom, her stepdad and her stepsisters. That’s the constant in her life, and it’s a big part of what lets her grow up into the Slatebreaker she becomes.

Emaline’s biological father on the other hand is kind of a jerk, who never really has to own up to being a jerk. Again, the nuance is great here – he avoids being an outright villain, but he’s sure not all that impressive. But luckily, Emaline is able to figure out that she doesn’t really need him . If they’re going to have a relationship, he’s the one who is lucky, and she finds a way to include him in her life while managing her own expectations.

Not only is that impressively mature, it’s pretty awesomely Slatebreaking to see Emaline take charge of that relationship, in a way that not only advocates for herself, but for her younger brother.

Back to summer jobs – Emmaline’s work ethic is such a big part of who she is, There is family, and boys, and friends, and college, but the turning point for her is when she takes a new job (I’ll avoid details to avoid both spoilers and just going into too much plot detail). But I loved seeing her find success because of how competent and hardworking she is. There’s no question that she will go on to be absolutely Slatebreaking in college and beyond.

Reviewed from library copy.

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One Response to Summer Jobs Week Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

  1. Maggie says:

    Of all Dessen’s books, this was my least favorite. I felt that Emmaline was strong on certain things but weak on others, and predictable. Her character bothered me in all her choices, like she knew certain things might be bad ideas or wrong and she doesn’t think them through or care about the consequences. I think Dessen normally does a better job of giving characters more soul, for some reason I was so upset when I finished this that I really didn’t like it.

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