If you’ve never read a Dessen book before (No judgments, I don’t know your life. But why not?!), here’s what you need to know: There is no dystopian future, no next-gen technology, no war-ravaged America. The stories follow present-day girls in real (well, based on real) places, with everyday problems.
Emaline, one of Dessen’s more confident narrators, is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate working at her family’s rental company in the tiny beach town of Colby and biding her time until she heads to college in the fall. She’s a smartypants with a full ride to the state school, a hot, oft-shirtless boyfriend named Luke, and a loving family.
Soon, though, we learn that Emaline’s idyllic life is a little more difficult than we previously thought. Her biological father, with whom she’s forged a tentative (and fragile) relationship over the years, moves to town for the summer after an awkward absence, and then her relationship with Luke hits the rocks. Good thing she meets Theo, a dorky-hot NYU film student in town for the summer helping to film a new movie about one of Colby’s salt-of-the-Earth residents who, it turns out, is a reclusive artist.
Both Theo and her father think Emaline is too smart for her hick town, sparking an internal battle for our heroine. (Okay, fine, there’s possibly some metaphorical war at stake here.) But Emaline’s fight is purely for self-discovery, and by the end of the summer, she’s figured out what she wants for her own future.
“The Moon and More” is a great starter book if you’re unfamiliar with the author’s work, but it’s also chock full of Easter eggs for devoted Dessen fans—from locations to characters to phrases—and even a shoutout or two to what Dessen’s Twitter followers know is her favorite a.m. programming, “Good Morning America.”
Even if you won’t be squishing a little sand between your toes this summer, “The Moon and More” boasts the kind of beachy-keen fun (not to mention scorching-hot drama) that’ll have you smelling the salt-filled sea air.
Have you (or will you) be reading “The Moon and More”?