Saturday, August 31, 2013

What we're reading: Realistic fiction

I just read Sarah Dessen's brand new book, The Moon and More. In this one, we get to find out about the townies vs. the tourists in a small beach town called Colby. It's Emaline's last summer at home before college, and she plans to spend it like every other summer, working for the family business (they manage beach rentals), hanging with her long-time boyfriend, Luke, and having some quality time with her family--a mother and step-dad she loves, and her two slightly crazy-making stepsisters--and two best friends.

Several factors, however, are about to send her summer off-track and challenge her world view. One involves her absentee father, with whom she has had an email relationship since she was about 10, until recently, when he inexplicably quit participating. The other involves one of the tenants, Theo, who is a NY City guy with big ambitions that he thinks Emaline should share. The push and pull between small-town ways and values vs. living large somewhere else are messing with Emaline's thinking about her future.

This book is typical Sarah Dessen, which is to say, it's realistic; there is an interesting setting; there are family issues; there are relationship issues; and there is one central, character issue that the protagonist must confront and overcome. And as usual, Dessen does all of this well, and it's an entertaining read! I like that her characters are normal, flawed, confused people. I also liked the strength the main character develops; I'm so tired of girl protagonists who passively wait for the guys to define her! Emaline has a couple of men in her life, and in some cases she makes poor choices by sitting back and saying nothing, but she also has decided opinions, she is able to see herself and others pretty clearly, and there is a definite story arc of character development and change.

I also loved the subsidiary characters in this one, particularly the reclusive artist and Emaline's two best friends, Morris and Daisy. They were all individual and interesting.

I had a problem with the cover; it's pretty, and I know that's supposed to be beach grass surrounding the boardwalk, but since such a point is made in the book about the beach and specifically about the ever-present sand, I wonder why they made the choice to show a beach without the beach?!

This won't be my favorite book of the year (because, let's face it, I find the allure of fantasy so much more compelling!), but for those who like a realistic read, it's a good one.

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