The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

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?

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Meh. I know the many Sarah Dessen fans will disagree with me, but I found The Moon and More to be just an okay read.  I much preferred What Happened to Goodbye.

Don’t expect much drama, action or cliffhangers in this book. Rather it consists mostly of mundane details of a teenager about to embark on college. Summer jobs, romantic and family relationships, and common worries about growing up are all very much explored. In that aspect, teens will be able to relate to Emaline. I on the other hand, was a little bored.

The best feature of the book was the setting of Colby. Emaline lives in the beach town of Colby that is flooded by tourists every summer. It is perfectly described and easy to image.  The subplot of the local Colby artist was an interesting element and coming from a small town, I could understand the protectiveness and cautiousness of letting ‘outsiders’ in.

 

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Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

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The title of the book stems from Astrid’s practice of expressing herself and sending love to the passengers of overhead planes.  In turn, passengers share their love and lives with the readers. Their stories are interspersed between Astrid’s narration. Astrid herself has some really interesting family dynamics. Astrid’s pot-smoking father, her self-involved, workaholic mother, and insecure younger sister, all play a huge role in the telling of this story.  Throughout the book, Astrid’s connection with Socrates and his philosophical beliefs was a unique element. She begins to imagine him everywhere and nicknames him ‘Frank S’.  She admires him because he ‘rejected all the boxes’ and questioned everything.

However, I question why bisexuality was not further explored.  Astrid questions her sexuality, and when her parents confront her, they urge her to choose a gay or straight box. She comes to realize that we cannot force tidy labels on complex things like sexuality. Sexuality cannot always be simplified. However, in the end, she very loudly comes out as a lesbian.  Why couldn’t she be bisexual? Why did she have to choose?

Overall, I think Ask the Passengers is realistic of a girl struggling with her own sexual identity and the difficulty of coming out to her family, friends, and small town. I have several friends that went through similar situations, and ones that continue to struggle with their sexual identity. Despite the one issue, I think this book would provide comfort to those on a path of self-discovery.

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