To clarify before we start, I am a big Sarah Dessen fan. I thought I’d get that out there. Ever since I received a copy of ‘Last Chance Summer’ with J17 magazine (a LONG time ago) I’ve been hooked on her particular brand of contemporary YA. Ok, so there’s a formula to it; girl with lack of strong parental figures looks to find her identity, often in a new town, and often with the aid of new friends, and (mainly) a new boy. During the summer. Always the summer. But there’s something quite reassuring in the pattern.
Except this book was different. Yes we were re-visiting Colby (setting of my much beloved LCS, and also featured in ‘Along For The Ride’), yes there’s a female protagonist with father (father/dad differences important in this one) issues and great best friends. And a breakup. But actually, our heroine Emaline has a strong and lovely family setup. And, while there are (obviously) some challenges to overcome, she’s a lot stronger, more self-assured, and more self-aware than Dessen’s other leading ladies. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the central relationship for once isn’t between two romantic leads, it’s between Emaline and her half-brother Ben, one that is given plenty of time and space to develop in a fashion realistic to its setting.
You’re never going to get reality with Sarah Dessen, but that’s not what it’s about. Her books are hopeful escapism, with characters that are easy to love. And with The Moon and More, we have what she’s always done well, but with more feminist power. More like this please!
Thanks to Viking Juvenile and NetGalley.com for the advance copy.