ImageYA author Sarah Dessen brings readers her eleventh novel, The Moon and More, following her successful tenth novel, What Happened to Goodbye, released two summers ago. Set in the familiar beach town of Colby, North Carolina, Sarah Dessen introduces us to a new heroine, eighteen year old Emaline. Living in Colby her whole life, Emaline tries spends her last summer before college working at her family’s realty company, Colby Realty. As well as planning on spending her remaining time with her two best friends, and her high school sweetheart, Luke. Things take an unexpected turn as Emaline’s estranged father and half-brother from New York comes back into town. And, if things could not have been stressful enough, in come NYU Film student Theo and his mentor Ivy to challenge Emaline’s small town thinking.  As Emaline starts to grow closer to her half-brother and Theo, Emaline begins to reevaluate her life and future in a small town; wondering if a big city will set her free.

Emaline’s high school love, Luke is the perfect, good, safe choice for her. They have been together since their freshmen year of High School. Both would be attending the same school, only buildings separating them. In comes Theo, offering a new perspective on life and opening Emaline’s eyes to a new her: an Emaline who steps out of her comfort zone and escorts Theo and his mentor, documentary film director Ivy, around Colby to learn about a town outside of tour guides. Like with everyone, this new summer isn’t always an easy transition. Decisions must be made. But which one and how?

Dessen is also known to bring characters back from previous novels; Dessen took it a step further this time by having Along for the Ride’s minor character, Washroom and underground café owner Clyde Conaway a power force; from small town boy to big city artist back to a recluse artist. There are still minor appearances, two from Along the Ride, and a two name dropping from The Truth about Forever. However, Clyde’s role takes precedence over minor recurring roles. He brings together reclusive and big city behavior together, stringing along the plot in a fun way. Will he actually do an interview for a documentary? Does he really want to go on tour? Emaline’s life may be changing, major choices must be made, but it is Clyde’s life choices that help push the plot through.  By seeing the life Clyde chose to live after leaving a lucrative art career in New York, then the life he may still want, Emaline grows with him.   

True to form, Dessen doesn’t bring readers a traditional summer fling YA book in time for the season of vacations and brief romances. While there are many of those aspects present: the love interests-high school love and not from here summer boy; small town eccentrics, like local artist Clyde Conaway; and, an unusual and tricky family dynamic. I loved how, to me, the book seemed a little like a sequel to Along for the Ride, another book I loved and would recommend any day. It made me smile continuously when the familiar haunt Washroom would be featured; my favorite underground spot Eli took Auden to in Along for the Ride. Even after ten books, this book is still refreshing and new, with quotes aplenty to write down and memorize. My favorite is “Maybe it was just part of growing up with someone. Once you have a rhythm and stay with it long enough, it’s hard not to find again.” (pg. 306) Overall, I give this book a full five stars, reminding me why I fell so in love with Sarah Dessen those ten books ago.