Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple

My Rating:
★★★★½

 Sometimes, books just keep finding their way back to you, to the point that you have to give them a read. Where’d You Go, Bernadette was on my radar for a few years before I finally got a copy, and it kept showing up in different places. My friend Madeleine reviewed it for her blog, Sarah Dessen tweeted about it, and I saw the cover everywhere on Instagram. Then, it sort of just appeared in a bookstore I was in, and I knew I had to pick it up.

I’m so glad I did. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is the sort of contemporary fiction novel that comes along every once in a while that is laugh-out-loud funny while also serving as commentary on the world as the author sees it. It’s satire in the best form – relatable and true while still hopeful about things changing.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette tells the story of the disappearance of Bernadette Fox, a former award-winning architect who now stays pent up in her home (a former school for “troubled girls”) and hires a virtual assistant from India to accomplish even the simplest tasks for her. The two people she truly interacts with are her 15-year-old daughter Bee and her tech geek husband Elgin. After her disappearance, Bee tries to put the pieces of the puzzle back together through a compilation of emails, memos, notes, and other correspondence that tells the story of Bernadette’s life and her interactions with those around her. Along the way, the reader falls in love with Bernadette’s passion and learns how to see the world through her eyes.

The plot of this book is absolutely absurd, which should be no surprise for those who have read the synopsis on Goodreads. Key events in the story include a mudslide caused by a neighbor’s insistence to rid Bernadette’s lawn of blackberry bushes, a long cruise to Antartica with off-ship ventures counting penguins, a long saga that started with Bernadette allegedly running over the foot of another school mother, and more. The book just moves and moves because readers truly can’t imagine what will happen next. The pageturner nature of this book is just one of its many draws.

While the events of the plot are absurd, the commentary on the modern-day world of parenting and suburban life come off as incredibly realistic. Two of the most well-developed characters in the story are the mothers of other members of Bee’s school class, one of whom regards her snooping on Bernadette’s life as part of her Christian charity while the other works at Microsoft and tries to cling on to a corporate world where she doesn’t really fit in. Other characters in the book also serve as caricatures of the real thing, such as the burnt out school principal who could care less about parent drama and the local architecture student who is completely starstruck by Bernadette.

The plot, characters, and tone come together in this book to create a fun and engaging read. As a hopeful satire and a thrilling contemporary novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette deserves a place on many shelves.

Favorite Passages

On making life interesting:
“The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

On music:
“When “Here Comes the Sun” started, what happened? No, the sun didn’t come out, but Mom opened up like the sun breaking through the clouds. You know how in the first few notes of that song, there’s something about George’s guitar that’s just so hopeful? It was like when Mom sang, she was full of hope, too.”

On people:
“Just because it’s complicated, just because you think you can’t ever know everything about another person, it doesn’t mean you can’t try.”

Book Information
Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: 2012
Price: US $7.73 on Amazon
Source: Main Street Books in Orleans, MA

Find this book on:
Goodreads
MariaSemple.com

Review: Max the Brave

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Max the Brave
by Ed Vere

My Rating:
★★★★★

Note: Max the Brave will be released on Tuesday, September 1st by Sourcebooks. A link to preorder is included at the bottom of this review.

I loved this cute picture book that is perfect for early readers! Kids who find this book as a read aloud or in their classroom libraries will fall in love with little Max, a brave kitten who chases mice… even though he doesn’t know what a mouse looks like. To explain what this book is about, here is a great trailer from the publisher:

The illustrations in this book are great, and they make the book memorable. The fun illustrations of animals and Max’s universe are well done, which is a must for picture books. The great use of color for the page backgrounds draws in the reader as well.

The concept of this book is definitely a winner for early readers, and it’s very reminiscent of P. D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother? Students will love following along as Max encounters the different animals and learns their names.

The language in this book is definitely within reach for the K-2 audience, but also challenges students to recognize different synonyms and phrases. This is a great challenge for early readers, and also makes this book a perfect fit for classroom read-alouds.

I expect this fun book to be appearing on lots of primary classroom shelves this fall, and probably lots of children’s bedroom bookshelves as well!

Classroom Connections

  • This book would be a great way for students (especially English Language Learners) to solidify their understanding of animal names. Luckily, the website for Max the Brave comes with a fantastic Activity Kit that includes an animal matching activity! You can find the activity kit here.
  • Many of the activities in the activity kit center around discussions of bravery. Max the Brave is a great unit for understanding character traits like “brave” and “persistent.”
  • The Max the Brave website has a great, Common Core-aligned educator’s guide that reviews important vocabulary words, looks at synonyms used in the book, practices sequencing, and more. These great guidelines for kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade classrooms can be found here.

Book Information
Title: Max the Brave
Author and Illustrator: Ed Vere
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Price: US $16.99
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Sourcebooks.com

Note: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this text from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. All opinions in this review are my own!

Teaser Tuesday: The Marvels

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly post challenge hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Each week, I’ll be posting a teaser from my current read!

This week, I’m doing something a little different for Teaser Tuesday. I haven’t started reading The Marvels yet, but I’ve pre-ordered it on Amazon and I can’t wait for my copy to arrive in September.

This week, Brian Selznick released a book trailer for his latest middle grade book, The Marvels. As all my friends know, Selznick’s two previous books (Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret) are two of my favorite historical fiction reads of all time.

The trailer for The Marvels doesn’t disappoint. Taking place from the 1700s to the 1990s, it seems like The Marvels will be another great historical fiction read for 4th-6th graders.

Teaser from the book trailer of The Marvels:

“Joseph was lost. Somewhere far away the headlights of a car swept through the snowy night. He stopped to rest beneath a low passageway off an ancient cobblestone street. A single rusting street lamp flickered nearby. He put down his heavy suitcase, dried off his glasses, and coughed. Joseph was shocked he’d made it all the way to London without being caught. But then again, the headmaster at St. Anthony’s was probably relieved he was gone…”

The full book trailer is available to watch here:

Do you have a Teaser Tuesday to share? Comment below and I’ll be sure to take a look!

Review: Everything, Everything

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Everything, Everything
by Nicola Yoon

My Rating:
★★★★★

Note: Everything, Everything will be released on Tuesday, September 1st by Random House Children’s. A link to preorder is included at the bottom of this review.

I loved this book in so many ways, it might be hard to explain them all. Trust me when I say this book is absolutely, positively worth your time. It makes you think, reflect, laugh, and cry all at once, and you’ll learn so much through the story.

Madeline F. Whittier is an 18-year-old girl who lives her life trapped in a bubble. As a baby, a chain of illnesses led to a diagnosis of SCID – a disease that basically means Madeline is allergic to the outside world. She has never left her house, where air filters and windows that don’t open keep her safe. Her only connections with society come in the form of her mom, her nurse Carla, and her Tumblr friends.

That’s until Olly arrives. When a family moves in next door, Madeline (or Maddy, as Olly calls her) quickly unlocks the world around her in more ways than one. A life path that was once predictable and safe becomes “unknown and unknowable.” Madeline finds out the truth about the world around her, and learns the difference between being alive and truly living.

A summary doesn’t do this book justice, because there is so much more than the cliche romance some might expect from a book about a sick girl and a boy who “saves her.” In fact, as Madeline says, “I’m not a princess. And I don’t need rescuing.” Olly and Madeline have their own problems and their own solutions for them. Their relationship doesn’t fix everything, and it’s not perfect (nor should it be). Their relationship is largely about respect, which sets a fantastic example for YA readers. Maddy and Olly’s is a romance in which Olly thinks Maddy is “funny and smart and beautiful in that order, and the order matters.” Their relationship is admirable, sweet, relatable and beautiful all at once, and that’s one of the highlights of Everything, Everything.

The creative way the story is told will captivate readers, especially young adults. Beautiful prose from Madeline’s perspective is mixed with IM transcripts, childhood diary entries, school notes, and other creative “artifacts” from Madeline’s life. Breakout writer Nicole Yoon’s unique style makes this book a page turner, and the pacing is absolutely perfect. Passages that are meant to be funny are absolutely hilarious, and parts of the story that are meant to be inspirational are relatable and honest instead of preachy.

As the tagline of the book says, “the greatest risk is not taking one.” This is a book that takes risks, and asks the reader to come along for the ride. Addressing issues such as growing up, mental illness, race, and more, this book is one that will speak to a young adult generation that is socially conscious and wants to learn more about the issues that affect others. While Yoon takes risks in her subject matter and the way in which she tells the story, it’s the risks that Maddy and Olly take that will captivate readers and make this a favorite of many for 2015.

This is the type of book I can’t wait to talk to people about, because it’s filled with so much wisdom and inspiration mixed with youthful optimism, and I can’t wait to hear how it speaks to readers differently. Reserve it at your local library, pre-order it on Amazon, or find some other way to get this book in your hands this September. This book truly has everything, everything.

Book Information
Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Illustrator: David Yoon
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Price: US $21.99
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Penguin Random House

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this text from Random House Children’s. All opinions in this review are my own!

Review: The Secrets to Ruling School (Without Even Trying)

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The Secrets to Ruling School (Without Even Trying)
by Neil Swaab

My Rating:
★★☆☆

Note: The Secrets to Ruling School (Without Even Trying) will be released on Tuesday, September 1st by ABRAMS Kids. A link to preorder is included at the bottom of this review.

When I picked up The Secrets to Ruling School (Without Even Trying), I expected to find a mix of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the 2000s classic TV show Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. The cover and description led me to believe that the main character, Max Corrigan, would lead the reader through some of the trials and errors experienced in middle school, while showing us how to take the high road. Instead, Max absolutely takes the low road through the entire book.

The book is set up in an interesting way, with narrator Max speaking to “you,” the new kid, who just arrived at his school. Max gives you advice and tips as you navigate your first 5 days of school. During those days, you get in trouble with the Principal and try to make your way into all the social groups. Meanwhile, Max is dealing with his arch nemesis, Kevin, who has it out for you too.

While the concept of this book sounds interesting and engaging for the 4th – 6th grade set, I don’t expect it to appear on classroom shelves anytime soon. Unfortunately, the book is filled with inappropriate language, references that will not click for the intended age group, raunchy humor, and off-color jokes. Students may have a tough time understanding the use of words like “goons,” “scrubs,” and “amazeballs.” References to people like Louis C.K. may go over the heads of 10 year old readers.  Jokes comparing teachers to Nazis are present in this book, as well as thinly-veiled swear words.

Additionally, the advice given by Max Corrigan will not help students, and may in fact get them in serious trouble. Hopefully, readers will realize that much of the book is satire, but if they don’t, they will be left with advice on how to hack people’s social media accounts, scam students into giving them money, and use swears and rude language to interrupt class. In an era where cyber bulling is a real and scary concept, advice on how to hack the passwords of classmates should not be given to students.

Secrets to Ruling School does have some redeeming factors, including the fantastic illustrations done by Neil Swaab and the engaging plotline of Max’s struggle with his nemesis, Kevin Carl. Additionally, a plot twist readers won’t be expecting adds intrigue to the story. Parts of the book are laugh out loud funny with appropriate humor, but this book only receives 2 stars because appropriate humor is unfortunately hard to find.

The publisher recommends this book for the 10-14 age group. I think the book is inappropriate for 10 and 11 year olds, and 12-14 year olds will find most of the humor childish. While Neil Swaab has great promise as an illustrator and children’s author, his first book does not seem to be a good fit for classroom shelves.

Book Information
Title: The Secrets to Ruling School (Without Even Trying)
Author: Neil Swaab
Publisher: ABRAMS Kids
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Price: US $13.95
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
NeilSwaab.com

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this text from ABRAMS Kids in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own!

Friday Five: Can’t Miss Historical Fiction

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When I was a kid, I used to love how books could transport me to so many different time periods. I loved spending an afternoon with Samantha (from the American Girl Series) in 1904, then spending the evening back in 1999. As I’ve grown older, I’ve still found historical fiction to be one of my favorite genres. For today’s Friday Five, I’d like to share with you five of my favorite historical fiction books. Some are for kids, some are for adults, but all of them help us imagine life in a different time period, and often use it to understand our lives today.


Wonderstruck
by Brian Selznick

A unique read given that the pictures take place in the 1920s and the words take place in the 1970s, Wonderstruck isn’t your typical historical fiction read. Instead of relying on the current events of a given time period to drive the story, what matters in this book is the separation in time between the 1920s and the 1970s, with the reader wondering how the story of one connects to the other. In the 1920s, we meet a deaf girl named Rose who idolizes a famous actress named Lillian Mayhew. In the 1970s, we meet Ben, a boy who is deaf in one ear and runs away to New York in an attempt to learn about a father he never knew after his mother passes away. Both the 1920s and 1970s are portrayed brilliantly through visual representations and written descriptions. This book is a great read for 4th-6th graders and adults alike.

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

When I was only about 10% of the way into this book, I was telling everyone I knew that it was one of my top reads of 2014. Doerr’s incredible use of language to describe the settings really takes the reader back to the World War II era in which this book takes place. You will fall in love with the two main characters: Marie, a blind girl living with her locksmith father in Paris, and Werner, an orphaned boy living in Nazi Germany. The way in which they cross paths is beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful all at once.

Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry

Taking place in World War II-era Copenhagen, Number the Stars tells the story of two friends whose bond is threatened by the Holocaust. One of the friends is Jewish while the other is Christian, and the Christian friend and her family work tirelessly to protect the young Jewish girl from the Nazis. This is a beautiful depiction of the ways the Danish people saved thousands of lives during World War II.

The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd

Before the Civil War, many people in the United States were fighting for freedom in more ways than one. The Invention of Wings explores the meaning of the friendship between a slave and her owner. When both girls were young, one was given to the other – and the owner has spent her whole life since then working to bring freedom to both slaves and women in the United States.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick

I usually wouldn’t include two books by the same author on one list, but Brian Selznick has truly mastered how to portray different parts of history in middle grade literature. The pictures in Hugo Cabret give us a vision of a time gone by: where trains were the main form of travel and train stations were a microcosm of life. Hugo is an orphaned boy who is trying to make sense of the things his father left behind, and he meets some amazing people who help him along the way.


Do you have a favorite historical fiction read that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Teaser Tuesday: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly post challenge hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Each week, I’ll be posting a teaser from my current read!

Last year, I saw a review for Where’d You Go, Bernadette on my friend Madeleine’s blog over at Top Shelf Text. It sounded fascinating, and it immediately went on my (never-ending) TBR list. I sort of forgot about it until last week, when Sarah Dessen tweeted about it and put it back on my radar.

I was in the bookstore the other day with a bunch of books I was considering when I saw this cover, dropped everything, and immediately bought a copy. With a great synopsis and awesome reviews, I just had to pick it up. After finishing the book the next day, I can say it lived up to the hype! A review will be coming soon.

Teaser from p. 81 of Where’d You Go, Bernadette:

“When ‘Here Comes the Sun’ started, what happened? No, the sun didn’t come out, but Mom opened up like the sun breaking through the clouds. You know how in the first few notes of that song, there’s something about George’s guitar that’s just so hopeful? It was like when Mom sang, she was full of hope, too.”

Do you have a Teaser Tuesday to share? Comment below and I’ll be sure to take a look!

Review: Brilliant

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Brilliant
by Roddy Doyle

My Rating:
★★★★½

Note: Brilliant will be released in the U.S. on Tuesday, September 8th by ABRAMS Kids. A link to preorder is included at the bottom of this review.

After visiting Dublin last year, I absolutely fell in love with the culture, music, and whole country of Ireland. I was very excited to pick up this middle grade book from Roddy Doyle, an accomplished Irish author. Brilliant takes place in Dublin, with the entire story taking place in the 24 hours leading up to the annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade. In addition to having plenty of references to the Irish way of life, Brilliant is a fantastic fantasy-inspired take on how we can work to help those around us overcome depression.

Brilliant begins with the story of Gloria and Raymond, two children whose lifestyle changes when their Uncle Ben moves in. Uncle Ben doesn’t have the money to pay for his mortgage, and has fallen into a deep depression. Although there is still a lot of talking and chatting and laughing in their house, Gloria and Raymond notice a lot more mumbling – something they think adults do so that children won’t hear things that are serious and sad. When eavesdropping on the mumbling one night, they hear their grandmother say that the Black Dog of Depression is on Dublin’s back, and that it’s stolen Dublin’s funny bone. Raymond and Gloria head off to destroy the Black Dog of Depression, beginning a night-long journey across Dublin. Along the way, they meet other children whose families are suffering from depression, as well as talking animals that give them advice on their journey. The children of Dublin come together to rid Dublin of depression, learning some lessons about happiness and sadness along the way.

One thing I loved about Brilliant was the way Doyle was able to capture kids’ thoughts on paper. Gloria and Raymond were well-developed characters with their own fears, strengths, and personalities. Even though the narrator was telling the story in 3rd person, the concept of viewing the world as a child does was present throughout the story. The way in which the narrator discussed adults’ behavior and actions reminds adult readers that children know more than we think! The book was very honest about how children can be aware of things like depression and money troubles, and instead of it being kept a secret from them, knowledge can rid children of their fears. This concept was most present in the way the book approached issues of mental health. The book was honest about how depression is something that can’t be overcome immediately, and instead requires millions of small steps along the way. It’s not often that a children’s book confronts issues of mental health in such a powerful way, and Brilliant does it very well.

Another powerful aspect of Brilliant is the way it approaches language, and recognizes the complexities of how the words we use can affect us and others. The world “brilliant” becomes a rallying cry for the children because of its use in Irish culture, which is explained beautifully in the book. Meanwhile, the word “useless” is a weapon used by the Black Dog of Depression to make the children feel like nothing. Investigating the language used in this book can be a great way to incorporate Brilliant into a classroom curriculum.

Brilliant is a brilliant read, and it’s a great fit for middle grade readers, especially those that appreciate fantasy elements and relatable characters.

Classroom Connections

  • In Brilliant, words are both the heroes and villains of the story. The word “brilliant” is used to empower and create happiness and joy, while the world “useless” attacks people and tears them down. These “superwords” have the ability to affect characters when used in writing. Using vocabulary words from your classroom, ask students: if [example word] were a superword, would it be a hero or a villain? What are the word’s superpowers? For example, the word “bewildered” has the superpower to make a character perplexed and confused. The word “knowledgable” has the ability to give characters insight and awareness.

Book Information
Title: Brilliant
Author: Roddy Doyle
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Publisher: ABRAMS Kids
Release Date: September 8th, 2015
Price: US $16.95
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
ABRAMS Kids

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this text from ABRAMS Kids in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own!

Friday Five: Children’s Books with Strong Girls and Women

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I’m a firm believer that every child needs a role model. Sometimes, the best ones are found between the pages of books. I’ve found that the girls in my classroom are always looking for spunky, smart, quirky, and brave heroines to identify with in their free reading. They also look for women and girls who have depth to their characters. Today, I’m spotlighting 5 of my favorite books that feature strong women and girls. Some of them were my favorites as a child, others are more recent releases. Please feel free to comment below with some of your favorite books with strong heroines – I’m always looking for suggestions!


The Madeline Series
by Ludwig Bemelmans

“In an old house in Paris
That was covered in vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”

When I was a kid, I used to have a Madeline doll that I carried around with me. I absolutely loved reading about Madeline and her adventures with her classmates. In the first book, Madeline shows true bravery when she gets her appendix out. Madeline is a leader, and the other students want to follow in her footsteps. More recently, I’ve loved reading about Madeline’s adventures in Madeline at the White House – a story of Madeline in one of my favorite cities!

Pippi Longstocking
by Astrid Lindgren

When I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, I took a class entitled “The Rebel Child in Scandinavian Children’s Literature.” Created by the brilliant Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking is a perfect example of the rebel child. She represents a child who doesn’t always follow the rules or stick to traditional ways of doing things, but this rebellious nature allows her to learn from her mistakes and realize what truly matters. Pippi is very loyal to her friends Annika and Tommy. Pippi is a very memorable character due to her unconventional manners, her superhuman strength, and (who could forget?) her awesome red pigtails!

Rosie Revere, Engineer
by Andrea Beaty

I recently reviewed this book on the blog, giving it a 5 star rating for its fantastic message, beautiful poetry, and amazing illustrations. What really sticks out in this book, though, are the incredible characters. Young Rosie has dreams of becoming a great engineer, but in a world that keeps telling her “no” in one way or another, she files away that dream and chooses to give up. One day, however, her great aunt Rose (based on Rosie the Riveter) shows her that she really can do anything if she takes it one step at a time and never gives up. Both Rose and Rosie are strong female characters, which makes this a great read for any young lady in your life.

Chrysanthemum
by Kevin Henkes

When I was a little girl, I used to be self-conscious about how my name didn’t sound quite like anyone else’s. When I picked up Chrysanthemum, that completely changed. Chrysanthemum is constantly teased by her classmates because she has a name that “scarcely fits on her nametag.” Over time, Chrysanthemum gets very down in the dumps about who she is, but encouragement and support from her parents helps her get back on her feet. Eventually, everyone’s favorite music teacher reveals that her name is Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle, and she is going to name her baby girl Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum’s classmates realize that a long name is nothing to be ashamed of. I really love this book because it’s primarily about coming to terms with who you are. (Plus Delphinium Twinkle might be the coolest name for a character in a book, ever.)

Matilda
by Roald Dahl

Saving my absolutely favorite for last, Matilda is such a fantastic book for finding strong women. Growing up as a 90s kid, I loved the live action movie, and I recently saw the amazing West End musical adaptation in London. Matilda is a memorable story that will, without a doubt, be passed down for generations. The character of Matilda has unexplained magic powers, but what most people remember about her is that she is incredibly bright. She spends her free time in a library and knows how to do tricky math problems in her head. She absolutely thrives in the classroom, even though she has a very difficult home life. Luckily, she finds a wonderful role model in the form of Miss Honey – a teacher who believes in her and guides her on her journey. A book that features a brilliant little girl and a kind, witty and helpful woman is a great fit for anyone looking for strong female characters!


Who are your favorite heroines in children’s literature? Feel free to share in the comments below!

 

Review: The Moon and More

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The Moon and More
By Sarah Dessen

My Rating:
★★★½

I’m an absolutely avid Sarah Dessen fan. I practically grew up on The Truth About Forever. When I pick up her new books, I love finding the connections between her books, marking my favorite quotes, and diving headfirst into the universes she creates. That’s why I was so excited to pick up a copy of The Moon and More in the bookstore last week. While I did enjoy the book, it wasn’t one of my favorites from Sarah Dessen, although I’m sure it would be engaging for many YA readers.

At the beginning of the novel, narrator Emaline is dating an attractive, funny, easygoing pool boy named Luke. In fact, she’s been dating him for the entirety of high school. Add in her friends Daisy (a fashionista) and Morris (her best friend from childhood), and Emaline seems to have it pretty good. However, she’s also trying to balance working at her family’s realty company with getting ready for college and dealing with a not-so-familiar figure from her past. Her father makes a reappearance after hurting Emaline by breaking a promise.

Right when her father shows up again, Emaline meets Theo: a charming, big-talking city boy who seems to think she deserves the whole world. Add Theo’s arrival to relationship issues with Luke, and Emaline doesn’t know which way to turn. Along the way, she’s trying to connect with her adorable half-brother Benji and say goodbye to the town she has called home for 18 years.

I loved Emaline’s character, and I was impressed by the way her character developed over the course of the novel. She really came in to her own, letting go of the past and taking hold of her own future. Her experiences as someone transitioning from high school to college were relatable, and the lessons Emaline learns are ones we all have to learn in one way or another. I thought Emaline was a memorable character in the Sarah Dessen universe, and I hope she shows up again in future books.

The reason this book is getting 3½ stars instead of 4 or 5 is because of the strange pacing of the novel. I’m used to Sarah Dessen’s books being page turners, simply because we want to know if the girl gets the guy or learns she doesn’t need him. In this book, it felt like some sections moved slowly; events seemed to drag on and go into too much detail. In other sections, I felt like we were asked to move too quickly to understand a character’s change in personality (*spoiler* for example, Theo goes from a charming, classy gentleman to a downright rude, judgemental city boy in about two seconds *end spoiler*). The book just didn’t seem to move in the same smooth, flowing way I’m used to from Sarah Dessen books.

I’ve heard fantastic things about Sarah Dessen’s latest novel, Saint Anything, and I’m absolutely willing to give it a chance, considering all of Sarah Dessen’s other books are near the top of my YA favorites list. While The Moon and More didn’t blow me away, it’s another solid read from a great YA author.

Favorite Passages

On Ups and Downs:
“The thing is, you can’t always have the best of everything. Because for a life to be real, you need it all: good and bad, beach and concrete, the familiar and the unknown, big talkers and small towns.”

On Moments:
“The truth was, there was no way everything could be the Best. Sometimes, when it came to events and people, it had to be okay to just be.”

Book Information
Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Year: 2013
Price: US $9.99
Source: Barnes & Noble

Find this book on:
Goodreads
SarahDessen.com