Pub. Date:
The Moon and More

The Moon and More

by Sarah Dessen


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A New York Times bestseller
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?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.
“Completely engaging, infused with moments of sweetness, humor and major epiphanies.” —Kirkus Reviews
Also by Sarah Dessen:
Along for the Ride
Just Listen
Keeping the Moon
Lock and Key
Someone Like You
That Summer
This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever
What Happened to Goodbye

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670785605
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 06/04/2013
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 805,477
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.48(d)
Lexile: HL710L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Sarah Dessen is the author of thirteen novels, which include the New York Times bestsellers The Moon and MoreWhat Happened to GoodbyeAlong for the RideLock and KeyJust ListenThe Truth About Forever, and This Lullaby. Her first two books, That Summer and Someone Like You, were made into the movie How to Deal
Dessen’s books are frequently chosen for the Teens’ Top Ten list and the list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. They have been translated into twenty-five languages. Sarah Dessen is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult division of the American Library Association.
Sarah Dessen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with highest honors in creative writing. She lives in North Carolina with her family.
Visit Sarah at


Chapel Hill, NC

Date of Birth:

June 6, 1970

Place of Birth:

Evanston, Illinois


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, degree in English.

Read an Excerpt


“—or I promise you, we’ll turn right around and go back to Paterson!” the woman behind the wheel of the burgundy minivan was shouting as it pulled up beside me. She had her head turned towards the backseat, where I could see three kids, two boys and a girl, staring back at her. A vein in her neck was bulging, looking not unlike the interstate, thick and unmissable, on the map held by the man in the passenger seat beside her. “I am serious. I have had it.”

The kids didn’t say anything. After a moment of glaring at them, she turned to look at me. She had on big sunglasses with bedazzled frames. A large fountain drink, the straw tinged with lipstick, was parked between her legs.

“Welcome to the beach,” I said to her, in my best Colby Realty employee voice. “May I—”

“The directions on your Web site are garbage,” she informed me. Behind her, I saw one of the kids frog-punch another, who emitted a stifled shriek. “We’ve gotten lost three times since getting off the interstate.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” I replied. “If you’d like to give me your name, I’ll grab you your keys and get you on the way to your rental.”

“Webster,” she told me.

I turned, reaching into the small rattan bin that held all the envelopes for that day’s check-ins. Miller, Tubman, Simone, Wallace . . . Webster.

“Heron’s Call,” I read off the envelope, before opening it to make sure the keys were both in it. “That’s a great property.”

In reply, she stuck out her hand. I gave the envelope to her, along with her complimentary beach bag full of all the free stuff—Colby Realty pen, giveaway postcard, area guide, and cheap drink cooler—that I knew the cleaning crew would most likely find untouched when they checked out. “Have a great week,” I told her. “Enjoy the beach!”

Now she gave me a wry smile, although it was hard to tell if she was truly thankful or just felt sorry for me. After all, I was standing in a glorified sandbox in the middle of a parking lot, with three cars lined up behind her, most likely full of people in the exact same kind of mood. When the final stop on a trip is paradise, being the second to last is no picnic.

Not that I had time to really think about this as they pulled away, signal already blinking for their turn onto the main road. It was three ten, and the next car, a blue sedan with one of those carriers on top, was waiting. I kicked what sand I could out of my shoes and took a deep breath.

“Welcome to the beach,” I said, as they pulled up beside me. “Name, please?”

“Well,” my sister Margo said when I came into the office, sweat-soaked and depleted, two hours later. “How did it go?”

“I have sand in my shoes,” I told her, going straight to the water cooler, where I filled up a cup, downed it, and then did the same with two more.

“You’re at the beach, Emaline,” she pointed out.

“No, I’m at the office,” I replied, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. “The beach is two miles away. People will get to the sand soon enough. I don’t see why we have to have it here, too.”

“Because,” she replied, in the cool voice of someone who had spent the day in air-conditioning, “we are one of the first impressions our visitors get of Colby. We want them to feel that the moment they turn into our parking lot, they are officially on vacation.”

“What does that have to do with me standing in a sandbox?”

“It’s not a sandbox,” she said, and I rolled my eyes, because that’s exactly what it was, and we both knew it. “It’s a sandbar, and it’s meant to evoke the majesty of the coast.”

I didn’t even know what to say to this. Ever since Margo had graduated from East U the year before with a double degree in hospitality and business, she’d been insufferable. Or more insufferable, actually. My family had owned Colby Realty for over fifty years; our grandparents started it right after they got married. We’d been doing just fine, thank you, before Margo and her sandbox or sandbar, or whatever. But she was the first one in our family so far to get a college degree, so she got to do whatever she wanted.

Which was why, a few weeks earlier, she had this sandbox/Tiki Hut/whatever it was made and put it in our office parking lot. About four feet by four feet, with waist-high walls, it was like a wooden tollbooth, with a truckload of playground sand dumped in and around it for good measure. Nobody questioned the need for this except me. Then again, no one else had to work in it.

I heard a snicker, muffled, and looked over. Sure enough, it was my grandmother, behind her own desk, making a phone call. She winked at me and I couldn’t help but smile.

“Don’t forget about the VIP rounds,” Margo called out, as I headed in that direction, chucking my cup in the trash on the way. “You need to start promptly at five thirty. And double-check the fruit and cheese platters before you deliver them. Amber did them and you know how she is.”

Amber was my other sister. She was in hair school, worked for the realty company only under duress, and expressed her annoyance by doing everything in as slipshod a way as possible.

“Ten-four,” I replied, and Margo exhaled, annoyed. She’d told me ten times that it sounded so unprofessional, like trucker talk. Which was exactly why I kept saying it.

My grandmother’s office was right at the front of the building, with a big window looking out onto the main road, now packed with beach traffic. She was still on the phone but waved me in when she saw me in her doorway.

“Well, yes, Roger, I sympathize, believe me,” she was saying as I pushed some brochures aside to sit down in the chair opposite her desk. It was messy as always, piled with papers, file folders, and several open packs of Rolos. She always misplaced one after opening it, only to do the same with the next, and the one after that. “But the bottom line is, in rental houses, door handles get a lot of use. Especially back door handles that lead to the beach. We can fix them as much as possible, but sometimes you just have to replace the hardware.”

Roger said something, his voice booming from the receiver. My grandmother helped herself to a Rolo, then extended the pack to me. I shook my head.

“The report I received was that the handle fell off, inside, after the door was locked. The guests couldn’t get back in. That’s when they called us.” A pause. Then she said, “Well, I’m sure they could have climbed in through a window. But when you’re paying five grand for a week, you can claim certain privileges.”

As Roger responded, she chewed her Rolo. The candy wasn’t the best habit, but it was better than cigarettes, which she had smoked up until about six years earlier. My mother claimed that when she was a kid, a constant cloud had hung in this office, like its own personal weather system. Weirdly enough, even after multiple cleanings, new curtains and carpet, you could still smell the smoke. It’s faint, but it was there.

“Of course. It’s always something when you’re a landlord,” she said now, leaning back in her chair and rubbing her neck. “We’ll take care of it and send the bill. All right?” Roger started to say something else. “Great! Thanks for the call.”

She hung up, shaking her head. Behind her, another minivan was pulling into our parking lot. “Some people,” she said, popping out another Rolo, “should just not own beach houses.”

This is one of her favorite mantras, running a close second to “Some people should just not rent beach houses.” I’ve often told her we should have it needlepointed and framed, not that we could hang it up anywhere in this office.

“Another busted handle?” I asked.

“Third one this week. You know how it goes. It’s the beginning of the season. That means wear and tear.” She started digging around on her desk, knocking papers to the floor. “How did check-in go?”

“Fine,” I said. “Only two early birds, and both their places were already cleaned.”

“And you’re doing the vips today?”

I smiled. The VIP package was another one of Margo’s recent brainstorms. For an added charge, people who were renting what we called our Beach Palaces—the fanciest properties, with elevators and pools and all the amenities—got a welcome spread of cheese and fruit, along with a bottle of wine. Margo first pitched the idea at the Friday Morning Meeting, another thing she’d instituted, which basically forced us all to sit around the conference table once a week to say everything we’d normally discuss while actually working. That day, she’d handed out a printed agenda, with bullet points, one of which said “VIP Treatment.” My grandmother, squinting at it without her glasses, said, “What’s a vip?” To Margo’s annoyance, it stuck, and now the rest of us refused to call it anything else.

“Just leaving now,” I told her. “Any special instructions?”

She finally found the sheet she’d been looking for and scanned it quickly. “Dune’s Dream is a good regular client,” she said. “Bon Voyage is new, as is Casa Blu. And whoever’s in Sand Dollars is there for two months.”

Months?” I said. “Seriously?”

Sand Dollars was one of our priciest properties, a big house way out on the Tip, the very edge of town. Just a week would break most budgets. “Yep. So make sure they get a good platter. All right?”

I nodded, then got to my feet. I was just about to the door when she said, “And Emaline?”


“You looked pretty cute in that sandbox this afternoon. Brought back memories.”

I smiled, just as Margo yelled from outside, “It’s a sandbar, Grandmother!”

Down the hallway in the back storage room, I collected the four platters Amber had assembled earlier. Sure enough, the cheese and fruit were all jumbled up, as if thrown from a distance. After spending a good fifteen minutes making them presentable, I took them out to my car, which was about a million degrees even though I parked in the shade. All I could do was pile them on the passenger seat, point every A/C vent in their direction, and hope for the best.

At the first house, Dune’s Dream, no one answered even after I rang the bell and paged them from the outside intercom. I walked around the extensive deck, peering down. There was a group of people around the pool below, as well as a couple walking down the long boardwalk to the beach. I tried the door—unlocked—and stepped inside.

“Hello?” I called out in a friendly voice. “Colby Realty, VIP delivery?” When you had to come into people’s houses—even if they’d only just moved in, and then just for the week—you learned not only to announce yourself but to do so loudly and repeatedly. All it took was catching one person unaware and partially clothed to bang this lesson home. Yes, people were supposed to let it all hang out on vacation. But that didn’t mean I wanted to see it. “Colby Realty? VIP delivery?”

Silence. Quickly, I moved up to the third-floor kitchen, where the views were spectacular. On the speckled granite island, I arranged the platter, chilled bottle of wine, and a handwritten card welcoming them to Colby and reminding them to contact us if they needed anything at all. Then it was on to the next house.

At Bon Voyage, the door was locked, the guests most likely out for an early dinner. I set up the platter and wine in the kitchen, where the blender was still plugged in, the carafe in the sink smelling of something sweet and tropical. It was always so weird to come into these houses once people were actually staying there, especially if I’d just been in the same morning to check after the cleaners. The entire energy was different, like the difference between something being off and on.

At Casa Blu, the door was answered by a short woman with a deep tan, wearing a bikini that was, honestly, not really age appropriate. This was not to say I knew how old she was as much as that, even at eighteen, I wouldn’t have attempted the same skimpy pink number. There was a white sheen of sunscreen on her face, a beer in a bright yellow cozy in her free hand.

“Colby Realty, VIP delivery,” I said. “I have a welcome gift for you?”

She took a sip of her beer. “Great,” she said, in a flat, nasal tone. “Come on in.”

I followed her up to the next level, trying not to look at her bikini bottom, which was riding up, up, up as we climbed the stairs. “Is it the stripper?” someone called out as I stepped onto the landing. It was another woman around the same age, midforties, maybe, wearing a bikini top, a flowy skirt, and a thick, gold braided necklace. When she saw me, she laughed. “Guess not!”

“It’s something from the rental place,” Pink Bikini explained to her and a third woman in a shorty bathrobe holding a wine glass, her hair in a messy topknot, who were looking down from the deck at something below. “A welcome gift.”

“Oh,” the bathrobe woman said. “I thought this was our present.”

There was a burst of laughter as the woman who let me in walked over to join them, looking as well. I arranged my platter and bottle, put up the card, and was about to leave discreetly when I heard one of them say, “Wouldn’t you just love to take a big bite of that, Elinor?”

“Mmmm,” she replied. “I say we dump dirt in the pool, so he has to come back tomorrow.”

“And the next day!” Flowy Skirt said. Then they all laughed again, clinking their glasses.

“Enjoy your stay,” I called out as I left, but of course they didn’t hear me. Halfway down the stairs to the front door, I glanced out one of the big windows, spotting the object of their ogling: a tall, very tan guy with curly blond hair, shirtless, wielding a long, awfully phallic looking pool brush. I could hear them still whooping as I went out the door, easing it shut behind me.

Back in the car, I pulled my hair up in a ponytail, secured it with one of the elastics hanging around my gearshift, and sat for a moment in the driveway, watching the waves. I had one more stop and plenty of time, so I was still there when the pool guy let himself out of the fence and headed back to his truck, parked beside me.

“Hey,” I called out, as he climbed up into the open bed, coiling a couple of hoses. “You could make some big money this week, if your morals are loose enough and you like older women.”

He grinned, flashing white teeth. “Think so?”

“They’d devour you, given the chance.”

Another smile as he hopped down, shutting the tailgate, and came over to my open window. He leaned down on it, so his head was level with mine. “Not my type,” he told me. “Plus, I’m already taken.”

“Lucky girl,” I said.

“You should tell her that. I think she takes me for granted.”

I made a face. “I think it’s mutual.”

He leaned in and kissed me. I could taste the tiny bit of sweat above his lip. As he pulled back, I said, “You’re not kidding anyone, you know. You are fully capable of wearing a shirt when you work.”

“It’s hot out here!” he told me, but I just rolled my eyes, cranking my engine. Ever since he’d taken up running and got all cut, you couldn’t keep a top on the boy. This was not the first house that had noticed. “So we still on for tonight?”

“What’s tonight?”

“Emaline.” He shook his head. “Don’t even try to act like you’ve forgotten.”

I thought hard. Nothing. Then he hummed the first few bars of “Here Comes the Bride,” and I groaned. “Oh, right. The cookout thing.”

“The shower-slash-barbecue,” he corrected me. “Otherwise known as my mother’s full-time obsession for the last two months?”

Oops. In my defense, however, this was the third of four showers that were being held in preparation for the wedding of Luke’s sister Brooke. Ever since she’d gotten engaged the previous fall, it had been all wedding all the time at his house. Since I spent much of my time there, it was like being forced into an immersion program for a language I had no interest in learning. Plus, since Luke and I had been together since ninth grade, there was also the issue of everyone making jokes about how we’d be next, and his parents should go ahead and get a two-for-one deal. Ha, ha.

“Seven o’clock,” Luke said now, kissing my forehead. “See you then. I’ll be the one with the shirt on.”

I smiled, shifting into reverse. Then it was back down the long driveway, onto the main road, and up to the end of the Tip, to Sand Dollars.

This was one of the newer houses we managed, and probably the nicest. Eight bedrooms, ten and a half baths, pool and hot tub, private boardwalk to the beach, screening room downstairs with real theater seats and surround sound. It was so new, in fact, that only a couple of weeks ago there had still been a Porta-John outside, the contractor rushing to finish the last inspections before the season began. While they did punch-list and turnkey stuff, Margo and I had been putting away all the utensils and dishes the decorator had bought at Park Mart, bags and bags of which had been left in the garage. It was the oddest thing, furnishing a whole house all at once. There was no history to anything. All rental houses feel anonymous, but this one was where I’d felt it the most. So much so that even with the pretty view, it always kind of gave me the creeps. I liked a little past to things.

As I came up the drive, there was a lot of activity. A white van with tinted windows and an SUV were parked out front, the van’s back doors open. Inside, I could see stacks of Rubbermaid bins and cardboard boxes, clearly in the process of being unloaded.

I got out of my car, collecting the VIP stuff. As I started up the stairs to the front door, it opened, and two guys about my age came out. Within seconds, we recognized each other.

“Emaline,” Rick Mason, our former class president, called out to me. Behind him was Trent Dobash, who played football. The three of us were not friends, but our school was so small you knew everyone, whether you liked it or not. “Fancy meeting you here.”

“You’re renting this place?” I was shocked.

“I wish,” he scoffed. “We were just down surfing and got offered a hundred each to unload this stuff.”

“Oh,” I said, as they passed me, moving down to the open van. “Right. What’s in the boxes?”

“No idea,” he replied, lifting one of the bins out and handing it to Trent. “Could be drugs or firearms. I don’t care as long as I get my money.”

This was exactly the kind of sentiment that had made Rick such a lousy class president. Then again, his only competition had been a girl who recently moved from California whom everyone hated, so it wasn’t like we had a lot of options.

Inside the open front door, another guy was moving around in the huge living room, organizing the stuff that had already been brought in. He, however, was not from here, something I discerned with one glance. First, he had on Oyster jeans—dark wash, with the signature O on the back pockets—which I hadn’t even known they made for guys. Second, he had a knit cap pulled down over his ears, even though it was early June. It was like pulling teeth to get Luke or any of his friends to wear anything but shorts, regardless of the temperature: beach guys don’t do winter wear, even in winter.

I knocked, but he didn’t hear me, too busy opening up one of the bins. I tried again, this time adding, “Colby Realty? VIP delivery?”

He turned, taking in the wine and the cheese. “Great,” he replied, all business. “Just put it anywhere.”

I walked over to the kitchen, where a couple of weeks ago I had been pulling price tags off spatulas and colanders, and arranged the tray, wine, and my card. I was just turning to leave when I caught a flutter of movement out of the corner of my eye. Then the yelling began.

“I don’t care what time it is, I needed that delivery today! It’s what I arranged and therefore what I expected and I won’t accept anything else!” At first, the source of this was just a blur. A beat later, though, it slowed enough for me to make out a woman wearing black jeans, a short-sleeved black sweater, and ballet flats. She had hair so blonde it was almost white, and a cell phone was clamped to her ear. “I ordered four tables, I want four tables. They should be here in the next hour and my account is to be adjusted accordingly for their lateness. I am spending too much money to put up with this bullshit!”

I looked at the guy in the Oyster jeans, still busy with the bins across the room, who appeared to not even be fazed by this. I, however, was transfixed, the way you are whenever you see crazy people up close. You just can’t look away, even when you know you should.

“No, that’s not going to work for me. No. No. Today, or forget the entire thing.” Now that she was standing still, I noted the set of her jaw, as well as the angular way her cheek and collar bones protruded. She was downright prickly, like one of those predator plants you see in deserts. “Fine. I’ll expect my deposit to be refunded on my card by tomorrow morning or you’ll be hearing from my attorney. Goodbye.”

She jabbed at the phone, turning it off. Then, as I watched, she threw it across the room, where it crashed against the wall that just had just been painted on Memorial Day weekend, leaving a black mark. Holy shit.

“Idiots,” she announced, her voice loud even in this big room. “Prestige Party Rental my ass. I knew the minute we crossed the Mason-Dixon Line it would be like working in the third world.”

Now, the guy looked at her, then at me, which of course made her finally notice me as well. “Who is this?” she snapped.

“From the realty place,” he told her. “VIP something or other.”

She looked mystified, so I pointed at the wine and cheese. “A welcome gift,” I said. “From Colby Realty.”

“It would have been better if you’d brought tables,” she grumbled, walking over to the platter and lifting the wrap. After peering down at it, she ate a grape, then shook her head. “Honestly, Theo, I’m already wondering if this was a mistake. What was I thinking?”

“We’ll find another place to rent tables,” he told her, in a voice that made it clear he was used to these kinds of tirades. He’d already picked up her phone, which he was now checking for damage. The wall, like me, was ignored.

“Where? This place is backwoods. There’s probably not another one for a hundred miles. God, I need a drink.” She picked up the wine I had brought, squinting at the bottle. “Cheap and Australian. Of course.”

I watched her as she started pulling open drawers, obviously looking for a corkscrew. I let her look in all the wrong places, just out of spite, before I finally moved over to the wet bar by the pantry to get it.

“Here.” I handed it to her, then grabbed the pen and paper we always left with the housekeeping card. “Prestige has a habit of screwing up orders. You should call Everything Island. They’re open until eight.”

I wrote down the number, then pushed it towards her. She just looked at it, then at me. She didn’t pick it up.

As I started towards the stairs, where Rick and Trent were banging up with another load, neither of the renters said anything. I was used to that. As far as they were concerned, this was their place now, with me as much scenery as the water. But when I spotted a price tag still on a little wicker basket by the door, I stopped and pulled it off anyway.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Many of Dessen’s books have been selected as Best Books for Young Adults, and they have appeared on numerous state award lists.


"I was born in 1970 in Illinois, but all the life I remember I’ve spent in Chapel Hill, NC. My parents were both professors at the University of North Carolina: my mom is a classicist (which means she knows everything you could ever imagine about myths, Latin, and words) and my dad teaches Shakespeare (which means I’d seen As You Like It about five times by the age of 18.) I have one brother, who is a musician and lives in California with his son and his wife, an artist who designed my personal website. (Thanks, Mariangeles!)

"I’ve been writing, in one way or another, for as long as I can remember. I was always a big reader, mostly because my parents were. I used to get frustrated with my mom because she bought me books for Christmas when what I really wanted were the gifts my friends got, things like sweaters and jewelry. But I did love to read. When I was eight or nine my parents gave me an old manual typewriter and a little desk in the corner of our den, and I’d sit there and type up my stories. I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, "She has such a wild imagination," which usually meant "I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth." I have a tendency to embellish: I think it’s just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it’s hard not to do it all the time.

"In high school, I was lucky enough to have a big group of girlfriends that have really inspired a lot of the stories in my books. I’m still close with my friends from that time, so it’s never very hard to put myself back into that place, that voice. Also it doesn’t hurt to still be living in my hometown, where it’s a given that I’ll bump into people I had homeroom with, or guys I had big crushes on, while I’m pumping gas or buying stamps. It makes it hard to leave high school behind entirely, which is a good or bad thing depending on what day you ask me. I attended college at UNC, where I studied creative writing and graduated with a degree in English. (Which means I can quote small parts of many Great Works. Comes in handy occasionally, like at cocktail parties.) I’d been on the five-and-a-half year college plan, and when I graduated my parents were hoping I’d settle down and get a Real Job so they could stop worrying about me. But instead of doing the whole resume/pantyhose thing, I decided to stick to my job waiting tables at the world famous Flying Burrito Restaurant and try to publish a novel. At the time, I had only one very bad book I’d written my senior year of college and the beginnings of another one. Luckily, my family was supportive and I spent a few years living in a ramshackle little house where I wrote during the day and did the restaurant thing at night.

"Three years after graduating, I sold my first book, That Summer, but it wasn’t until a year after that that I got offered a teaching job and left waitressing for good. I still miss it sometimes, though. It was a great job for a writer. Endless conversations to eavesdrop, tons of material, and fast money without ever taking work home. Plus, free Mexican food, the best perk of all. Now, I’ve published four books, all for young adults. I never really intended to be YA writer, but the second book I showed my agent she thought had a strong teenage voice, so she sent it off to an editor at Orchard Books, who bought it. Even though it was in a way accidental, I’ve found that writing for teens suits me. I do short stories, and other novels, that are for an older audience, but again and again I am brought back to the stories of high school. Maybe it’s because so much happened to me then that I’m not finished yet telling everything. My senior quote was from Pink Floyd (okay, I was a bit of a burnout—-I spent a lot of time in the parking lot, whatever, let’s move on) and it pretty much summed up my future, although I didn’t know it at the time. It was: "The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say." It turns out that I did.

"The books I read when I was teenager, the good ones anyway, have stuck more in my mind than anything since. I still love books, but while I couldn’t tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry’s A Summer to Die or Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them: I think it’s the best thing to which any writer can aspire. Now, I teach writing at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I’m lucky enough to see my students find their own voice, the way I did in the same program there not so long ago. Teaching is great for me, because I get to show people how writing can really change the way you see not only yourself but the world. I’ve found in my own life that if my writing isn’t going well, not much else will. It is the one constant, the key to everything else.

"As far as my other life, my non-writing life, I live in the country with my husband, some lizards, and two dogs who are completely spoiled and rule me completely. I like to work in my garden—-although I have not yet perfected the art of keeping everything alive——and, in my weaker moments, shop. I have a bit of an addiction to the Gap clearance rack, to be honest. I have this strange need to buy huge quantities of black pants. How many pairs of black pants does one person need? (Obviously for me, the answer is 11 and counting. But I digress.) What else can I tell you? I love Starbucks mochas but they make me way hyper. I subscribe to too many magazines. I make a mean bean salad. I could go on, but the truth is, my books are much more exciting than I am, and that’s a good thing. It’s always more fun to make stuff up anyway."

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