Author: Sarah Dessen
Narrator: Allie Gallerani
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Source: received from publisher via Audiobook Jukebox
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Okay, so I'm late to the Sarah Dessen fandom. And besides this book, I've only read one other by the author: Along for the Ride. How awesome, though, that the two books are set in the same town of Colby, with some cameos from characters I already know...even if I barely remember them now. I always mean to pick up more Dessen books...I actually just purchased a couple from the used bookstore in March, but I still haven't gotten around to those yet.
I'd been contemplating this book for awhile, but when the offer to review the audiobook came along, I couldn't resist. I'd not listened to anything from this narrator before, but I loved the audio for Along for the Ride, so it was a pretty good indication that Dessen books make for good audiobooks. And the audio for The Moon and More was no different. The narrator had great pacing and great timing, and though I think some characters could have come across better so as to stand out in the large cast of characters, I really enjoyed the presentation overall.
I think what I love best about the Dessen books I have read, and what most people site as their favorite aspect, is the family dynamic. The families in these books aren't perfect, they have flaws and they make mistakes. But even so, they grow and learn and become better together. They vascillate between being good role models and being cautionary tales. But they're realistic, and the fact that they're not perfect makes them a lot easier to relate to.
I also love that these are true coming-of-age stories. Yes, there's some romance thrown in for good measure, but I didn't see it as the focus of Along for the Ride or The Moon and More. In this novel, the "romance" -- I won't call it a love story because I never felt that love even entered the equation -- was probably my least favorite facet of the story. From a whirlwind break-up to a whirlwind summer fling, I just never felt invested.
What I was most captivated by was Emaline herself. Determined and level-headed Emaline thought she had everything all planned out. Then her biological father enters the picture, stirring things up by offering to help Emaline out with college. Then she and her boyfriend of three years break up. She meets opinionated, artistic Theo. Suddenly everything has changed and Emaline is just a confused girl, going through the motions while she tries to make sense of everything. That summer right after high school is a rather pivotal time in a young person's life, and it endeared Emaline's character to me even more that she struggled with where her life was headed and who she was now, rather than having it all figured out like she thought she did.
I loved the hopeful, open ending of this story. I love that nothing was set in stone, except Emaline's resolve to branch out on her own, to make decisions for herself. And I probably liked best the fact that none of Emaline's decisions ended up revolving around a boy. This novel was pretty much what I expected and hoped it would be: a story of an empowered young woman, looking to make her mark on the world. This is exactly the kind of book I could have used back then, and it's definitely the kind of book I'll hold onto for my daughter to read when she's ready.