Sarah Dessen is one of those authors whose books I know I will like before I've read the summary. Just the Dessen name on the cover tells me that I'm in for a good read full of authentic, relatable experiences that are never overwrought or dramatic.
Dessen's latest, The Moon and More, offers exactly that, but with a bit of a fresh flavor, since it heads in a different direction than her books typically do. Despite what the back cover summary may indicate, this is less a summer romance, and more of an introspective journey.
The Moon and More is narrated in first-person by Emaline, who lives in Colby, the fictional North Carolina town that will be familiar to long-time Dessen readers (it's based on Emerald Isle, N.C.). It's the summer before college and despite getting into Columbia, she's headed to a nearby state school, thanks to a full scholarship. She's headed there with longtime boyfriend Luke, who's a fun, crazy about Emaline, fun and comfortable. She helps her mom, dad, grandmother and half sisters run the family's summer home rental business and has a good life in her small town.
Then she meets Theo, who's spending the summer in Colby working on a documentary about a highly-regarded artist from the town. He has big dreams and believes Emaline's been thinking too small regarding her future. Her biological father too thinks that Emaline should be thinking bigger, and lets her know so when he arrives in Colby with her young half brother in tow.
There's a difference between the words father and dad.