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.
About the Author
Sarah Dessen is the author of thirteen novels, which include the New York Times bestsellers The Moon and More, What Happened to Goodbye, Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, Just Listen, The 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 Chapel Hill with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine.
Visit Sarah at sarahdessen.com.
Hometown:Chapel Hill, NC
Date of Birth:June 6, 1970
Place of Birth:Evanston, Illinois
Education:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, degree in English.
Read an Excerpt
HERE THEY COME.
“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 stuffColby Realty pen, giveaway postcard, area guide, and cheap drink coolerthat 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 Palacesthe fanciest properties, with elevators and pools and all the amenitiesgot 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 doorunlockedand stepped inside.
“Hello?” I called out in a friendly voice. “Colby Realty, VIP delivery?” When you had to come into people’s houseseven if they’d only just moved in, and then just for the weekyou 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?”
“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 jeansdark wash, with the signature O on the back pocketswhich 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
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 aliveand, 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."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Diving into another summer read, I found myself taken away by this story. 1. Realism. This best thing this author does is great such realistic stories with great family dimensions. The stories are always more than what they seem with the characters learning so much more about themselves and others around them. 2. I don’t need to be fixed. I love this storyline. Not everyone wants to be fixed. They are happy right where they are. They don’t need more cause what they have is enough. They are content with that and I love that Emaline is a content teenager. She has seen the mistakes her mother made and saw them for what they were. 3. Love. The love interest in quite difficult in this book. First you have Luke is great. And then he makes some mistakes that make me question everything. And Theo. A great fast-paced guy who is always on the go looking for the next big thing. Personally, I think Emaline, needs to find some other guy. That’s all I’m saying. 4. Parents. I really love that this book show some great family dimensions. Growing up with stepbrothers/sisters and half-brothers, I totally understood the family. They aren’t perfect but I adored the way Emaline’s family was always there for her. 5. Realization. The best part of the book is the realization of life and situations. You see, you can have the moon and more without having it all. Emaline saw that. She was happy and knew exactly what she wanted. Watching her grow up, learning hard lessons made Emaline stronger and more aware of who she is. The Moon and More is a story of life and love. A coming of age tale, that touches elements that any reader can get into, The Moon and More is great.
I have read everyone of sarah dessens books, multiple times. And i loved every single one of them. Thats why i have to give this book one star- because i know she is capable of so much more. I hated theo's character, and felt like there was absolutely no connection between him and emaline. In fact i didnt feel a very close connection with emaline and anyone. all in all if this book was written by someone else it would have been a ok book but given my love for sarah dessen books its sad that this book didnt deliver the amazingness i waited so long for.
As always with Sarah Dessen's books, this one will leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. There was only one character in the entire book that I didn't like (Emaline's father). Even he was fleshed out and not at all flat. I felt like I came to personally know every character in this book - such amazing characterization! I love Sarah Dessen's fictional town of Colby, as well. Having grown up in a small town (albeit not one on a beach) I can really relate to the atmosphere, and the beach adds an extra fun element to it. This book also hit home for me because I recently found myself in a similar situation as Emaline, receiving a full ride to a state school. I've been having second thoughts about it - maybe I should have applied to a more prestigious university? But reading this book and seeing how Emaline ended up exactly where she needed to be and where she fit in has made me feel so much more confident that I, too, am making the right choice and will be exactly where I need to next year. I highly recommend this book, especially to those who are going through big decision processes (college perhaps), recently experienced a big disappointment (Emaline experiences many), or just looking for a great summery beach read!
This is an excellent book. The romance is very well written. I was particularly impressed with the rich character development. The story doesn't slow down.
I have read several of ssrah dessans books and loved every single one until now. I didn't grow attached to the characters and found the book as a whole boring. I would not suggestit at all
Im so in love with all of her books. I have read every single one of them and it always feels like decades until i csn read her next one because waiting a day would feel like too long. Im only a quarter of the way through this book and i love it already. Sarah Dessen never dissapoints.
Emaline is very happy with her life. She works at her grandmother’s beach resort and has a steady boyfriend, Luke, who is described as “hot” without a shirt. Her job involves making sure everyone has a comfortable stay and she has made no plans for the future, not because she fears anything but just seems to take life as it rolls by day after day. But that’s about to change quite a bit – life is change at certain stages whether one wants it or not, and the essence of this story is how one embraces, fights, or flies from it. When Emaline is taking a VIP package of wine and fruit to one of the more luxurious resort areas, she meets a summer intern named Theo, who is working with a snooty director on a documentary film about a famous painter who lives like a regular guy and really doesn’t want the hype. Add to the mixture that Emaline’s absent father all of a sudden shows up exhibiting interest in his daughter’s education and college application process. At first she is cautious, then enthused, and later shocked by his on again, off again presence. She and Luke start to fight, have some misunderstandings, a betrayal and then a break-up. But as upset as she is initially, she begins to realize the future may not have as many predictable scenarios as she had hoped. Forced to turn down a Columbia University acceptance, she decides to go to a local college but she’s not so sure that Luke will be part of that future picture. Maybe she should change her plans totally. But things get complicated when a relationship with Theo starts to grow and her father moves into the area, bringing her half-brother Benji along, who comes to worship the ground Emaline walks on. Mom and Grandma are not so sure about all these changes! This is a tough, tender novel full of shifts in points of view about certain people. The characters are presented with all their best assets and toughest, weakest flaws. Unlike other books where characters paint black and white caricatures, Emaline learns to deal with whatever comes moment to moment. Love is a changing phenomena as well and passion is something to follow with all of one’s being! Readers will love this very real, smart and sassy character and the story threading and weaving its way around her town of Colby, a place built on sand that is far more solid than one could dream! Very nicely done, Sarah Dessen! More please!
Flat out dissapointed. I was so excited to get this book after reading lullaby, what happened to goodbye, lock and key, and someone like you. They were all fantastic...... except for this one. First of all, throughout the whole book, I had no idea how Emaline or any of the other characters looked like. And that plays a big role in trying to imagine the scenerio which the book describes. Second of all, I found that this book talked alot about change, but in my opinion te only thing that changed was the fact that Luke and Emaline had broken up and Morris became less lazy. Thirdly, the reason why Emaline and Theo fought was completely pointless in my opinion. Emaline took it in such a literal way, like if she wasnt enough for her, but obviosly he just wanted the best for her. because he loved her. And lastly, I could not find myself to relate or sympathy the character of Emaline. She took the littlest thing that someone told her into this huge problem and processed it in a whole different way that made no sense. So all in all, Emaline did alot of things through the book but she didnt change. She still had a bad relationship with her father, she obviously still has feelings for LUke and she was still going to the same university that she talked about in the beginning of the book. I love Sarah Dessen, but this was just a huge let down.
Sarah Dessen is by far one of my favorite authors. As a teen girl, I feel that I can relate to her books, especially growing up in a small beach town like Colby. I love that all of her books can connect- even if its for a few seconds via characters and I love that her romances are for the most part realistic. This book however, I found to be a disapointment. Theo was an obnxious, pompous jerk who, I feel had no connection to Emaline. Emaline, I found to be somewhat relatable, yet not quite, especially when she was feeling not so great about Theo, yet continued to date him. I guess my favorite characters in the book were Morris and Luke, becasue there was a constant between the two of them to always be there for Emaline. I thought that Emalines FATHER was an older version of Theo, obnoxious, a workaholic and self centered. I guess my favorite part of the book was the ending, and not because it was the end, but becasue it ended with Emaline not ending up with Theo (sorry for the spoiler) . I actually hope that if Sarah Dessen writes another book, she connects it back to Emaline so we can see if she and Luke ever get back together. All in all this book was not Sarah Dessens finest. I recomend Along for the Ride- which I believe is my all time favorite book- or Lock and Key, or any other Sarah Dessen book for that matter, because I guarentee it would change your perspective of her writing, becase I know that she is capable of so much more and as proven in this book- everyone deserves a second chance.
My actual rating of this book is probably around a 2.8. I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t particularly like it. I tried desperately to love this book as much as I’ve loved all of Dessen’s previous works, but it just wasn’t in the cards. A lack of plot, one-dimensional characters, and no resolution made me glad I waited to get it from the library rather than buying it. Dessen’s writing is always solidly good, but this time around it felt a little lazy in places. For example, the title is mentioned at least three times in the first couple of chapters. I stopped counting after that, but I’m sure it popped up more times. I also felt like the book was completely lacking a plot. Emaline is a HS graduate, working at the family business, totally unsure of what she wants to do with her life. Her world is basically turned inside out by the arrival of her bio-dad and half-brother, when her father comes to town to put his recently deceased aunt’s house on the market, as well as her relationship problems with long-term boyfriend Luke that conveniently start with the arrival of the more sophisticated Theo. It had all the necessary ingredients, but the execution was shoddy. The book mostly centered on Emaline hanging out with Theo and waxing poetic about how she wants more out of life, with no real resolution to any of these things. If Dessen had focused the plot on Emaline’s relationship with her family and resolving her issues with her father, the story would have worked a lot better. The character development also left much to be developed, with most of the characters being one-dimensional clichés. I simply couldn’t connect with any of them. If I’m being honest, Benji and Emaline’s best friends Daisy and Morris were the only characters in the book that I actually enjoyed. Those were the scenes that really shined for me and kept me reading the book. Emaline was too passive, frustratingly naive and at times annoyingly self-absorbed. The only moments when I enjoyed her character was during her interactions with her half-brother, Benji. It also didn’t help that I pretty much instantly disliked her family. Her mom and sisters were invasive and pushy, and nobody seemed to give much consideration to her or her feelings which drove me crazy throughout the book. Now, it is entirely possible that this is one of those “It’s not you, it’s me” situations. I always struggle to connect with characters who have big, invasive families like Emaline’s because my family was not like that at all. For the most part, especially in my teen years, I did what I want with little to no parental input or supervision. So I tend to get easily frustrated when I come across families where the parents are actually involved in the MCs lives, and irritated with the MC for letting their families push them around. One thing I really did enjoy was that the plot did not involve a love triangle like I feared. Both romances fell flat for me, and I didn’t particularly like either Luke or Theo, so if the book had been centered on Emaline trying to decide between the two I would have definitely DNFed it. While Luke was definitely much more likable than Theo, I wasn’t sold on Emaline being a good fit with either of them and found myself bored and frustrated during scenes that featured Emaline with either of her love interests. I did enjoy the first day or so of Emaline and Theo’s romance but that was it. After the second kissing scene it was just a mess that I usually skimmed through. I will give the book points for being realistic. As much as I disliked them, Emaline’s dysfunctional family was 100% believable as were her romantic interests. And while I disliked the fact that there was nothing resembling a resolution regarding her relationship with her bio dad, that is probably more realistic then them suddenly understanding each other and developing a close, loving relationship. The Moon and More was solidly written, but it just didn’t work for me. However I’m sure other Dessen fans will love it and so I would recommend it if you enjoy her previous works and other contemporary YA novels.
I was really excited to buy this book. The summary sounded really good, and I've read Sarah Dessen books before. 'Just Listen' was one of my favorites.. But this book was kind of boring. It was boring in the beginning then got more exciting towards the middle and then just started to get boring again.. In the book, Dessen never really explained well on what the characters looked like. & that's important to me when I read books and secondly, there were times where I got confused on what was happening, & thirdly, Emaline would go on about boring topics.. There wasn't much excitement going on. I literally want to stop reading but I'm almost done and I don't like starting books and not finishing them. That's the only reason why I'm continuing.. The book could have been better.
Loved it so good highly recomend it
This is coming from a girl who loved and read all her books. It took half the book to start talking about theo. Also she keeps going off topic and explain more detail about pointless boring topics instead of ones we would like to know. I dint want to sonud me but this is just a boring book. Im disappointed after waiting so long fir her to write a book. If ur a new fan of sarah dessen read along for the ride, lullaby, just listen
Didn't really care about any of the characters. Boring to me compared to her other novels which I have read all and loved but not this story.
Hard to get into at the beginning but it really moved after a few chapters. Glad I kept with it.
Since my initial discovery of Sarah Dessen’s work when I was in high school, I’ve read everything she’s ever written. The majority of her books have been enjoyable reads for me, and “The Moon and More” is no exception. Emaline is a resident of Colby, North Carolina, a beach town that features in a few of Dessen books and where other people come to make summer memories. Except Emaline’s whole life has been spent in and around Colby, and now that she’s about to leave it and start college somewhere new, she finds herself torn between whether she’s going far enough and whether leaving is a natural choice at all. I thought that post high school discombobulation was handled really well, the sense that you’re about to start some huge new phase in your life without having any clue what to expect, was reflected accurately in Emaline. One of the things I loved about “The Moon and More” was how all the subplots essentially reflected that overarching theme. Emaline’s decision to briefly date Theo, a New Yorker with very different life experiences, her biological father showing up on the eve of his divorce, and the documentary project which focuses on a local artist whom Emaline knows all speak to that idea of some changes being acceptable while others aren’t. The book itself sees a lot of transitions between character relationships–from break-ups and make-ups, to developing friendships, to family fallouts–and none of them felt forced or unnecessary. Like with most of Dessen’s books, I loved the secondary characters at least as much as I loved Emaline as the protagonist. Their agendas and concerns and ambitions were all believable and easy to relate to. I loved seeing some of those agendas come together in the final few chapters. The reason I only gave “The Moon and More” three stars, however, was a simple one. As much as I enjoyed the story and its characters and its handling, I never quite managed to fall in love. It was a quick, fun read and I’m glad I picked it up, but I never quite reached the level of emotional investment that I have with a few of Dessen’s other novels. I’m willing to bet a large part of my response has more to do with personal preference than anything else though. If you’re looking for a fun, summer read a month or two after the fact, you should still give this book a try.
There is a little bit of Emaline in us all. This laid-back, funny, determined character is who we should all strive to be in our lives. Sure, she has her flaws but she keeps pushing through them. She teaches girls that they shouldn't let a breakup ruin their lives. This book is about finding who your true family is, not judging people on their first appearances, and pursuing your interests. The main character gets into Columbia University, but can't go due to financial issues, but she doesn't let it stop her from being the first in her family to go to college, even if it's not an Ivy League school. There is little plot but it is still interesting to keep you reading until the very last page. This classic coming of age novel is a must read for everyone.
The moon and more by Sarah Dessen I think the book the moon and more by Sara dessen was very intriguing . I think this because the plot was at a place where every teenager wants to live at, sunny Malibu beach. the author showed the character, Jackie s life , in exquisite detail . I was very interested in this book because I wish I had the life of Jackie , but I mean who wouldn't . In the beginning of the story Jackie was dating a gorgeous senior later In the book dumps her because he didn't want to continue a relationship when he is In college . Jackie becomes devastated after that. She doesn't know what to do with all her leftover time . Jackie gets a dream job at a surfing store by the pier ,which then she finds the man she would of never thought being with ,Hunter . She was very hard headed about him because he was nothing like her last boyfriend . Hunter is a complete bad boy . Yup your typical man who wears leather and rides a motorcycle. They end up going to homecoming together and they had such a great time that they plan a next date . While they are at there 3 rd date, Jackies parents realize that Hunter is not an ideal boyfriend for jackies much richer life , which of course causes Jackie to become the biggest rebel the town of Malibu has ever had. She decided to skip school to be with her boyfriend which causes her to get bad grades . I think Sarah dressing did An amazing job describing the point of view from Jackie . I liked how she described her feelings and this book had exquisite detail , I felt like I was living jackies wild life , while in the comfort of my own couch . I would recommend this book to all highschool girls because it will make you fantasize about how you can live your own jackie + Hunter story . This book was a ten out of ten, and I hope to see more of Sarah dressens book out on the shelves soon .
I absolutely loved this book! The plot twist was (of course) unexpected and it really enhanced the book. It may not have been the classic love story, but I love that!
Emaline's family has always been complicated with volatile arguments between her and her two older sisters and her mother who has always wanted to give Emaline the moon and more. That isn't even considering her dad and her biological father. Or the younger brother she barely knows. Emaline has enough to worry about the summer before college without thinking about her relatives. Her job at the family real estate business means that she is busy checking in renters and catering to the whims of high-maintenance clients like the filmmaker who plans on filming a documentary about a local artist during the summer. Never mind that the artist in question wants nothing to do with the project. With college just around the corner, Emaline knew this summer would be different. She didn't expect troubles with her boyfriend. She couldn't have guessed that her father would make a sudden appearance in Colby. And at the start of the summer, she certainly had no idea how everything would come together--not to give her the moon but some things that are just as valuable in The Moon and More (2013) by Sarah Dessen. Set in the beach town of Colby, The Moon and More perfectly captures the breezy, aimless feel of a quiet summer. With evocative settings and an equally strong cast of characters, Dessen aptly portrays the mixed feelings that come with a summer that starts full of promise and turns into something entirely unexpected. At over four hundred pages (hardcover), The Moon and More has a plot that meanders across an entire summer to show readers an entire family as well as a picturesque town. Although the book felt a bit long at times, all of the pieces come together in the end to create a full picture. Emaline is a great narrator; she knows exactly who she is and exactly what she wants. Although she occasionally loses her way, Dessen navigates Emaline's complicated choices with skill and grace. The family dynamics in The Moon and More are fascinating as Emaline tries to figure out what a relationship with the father she barely knows would even look like. With half-siblings and step-parents it was also nice to see Emaline's family was just that--a family without any complicated labels. At its start, The Moon and More is a story of summer love. By the end, this book becomes a lot more as Emaline begins to understand who she is and, more importantly, who she wants to be. Possible Pairings: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker, Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee *This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2013*