Author: Sarah Dessen

Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Posted July 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah DessenReviewer: Rowena
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?

Sarah Dessen has always written such high-quality stories that I’m not at all surprised that I was engrossed in Saylor’s story from beginning to end. Emma Saylor lost her mother when she was ten years old and with the death of her mother, she lost contact with her mother’s side of the family. She doesn’t remember a lot about her mother’s family since her mother became estranged from them when she was little but she does remember stories her mother used to tell her about the North Lake and the life her mother had there before Saylor was born. When her father remarries and Saylor needs a place to crash while he goes on his honeymoon, she finds herself back in her mother’s world with a whole lot of questions. When we first meet Saylor, she’s Emma but everyone in her mother’s family calls her Saylor, just like her mother did when she was alive. This story is about how Emma became Saylor.

When Saylor gets to North Lake, she finds out that she had a giant family that she doesn’t remember and yet there are pictures floating around that prove that she was, very much, a part of this family. That she spent significant time with these people but she doesn’t remember very much. After years of being part of such a small family that consisted of her, her father and her grandmother and now her step-mother, being smack dab in the middle of so much family is overwhelming but I really loved seeing Emma grow into Saylor and just seeing her come into her own while getting to know the other side of her family.

I loved how she worked through learning about her mother. I loved seeing her develop relationships with people that were strangers to her when she first arrived at North Lake. I loved seeing her grow to care for every single person that she came into contact over the course of her stay there. I loved how by the end of the book, she had strong ties to her mother’s family and I really loved how they taught her how family is sometimes messy but family is family through thick and through thin.

Sarah Dessen never fails to write stories that hit me right in the gut. She writes these emotional journeys for her characters and I’m always right there with them. I enjoyed the love interest in this one a lot more than I did in the last book that I read by her and I’m already looking forward to her next release. Saylor and Roo were an adorable couple and I loved seeing them grow closer and closer each day that Saylor stayed in North Lake. There were times when I got really frustrated with Saylor’s Dad but even that is handled well and I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a sweet and emotional contemporary YA with charming characters and a main character that you’ll be cheering on from beginning to end. This book is good, you should read it.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5


Tagged: , , , , ,

Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Posted November 27, 2013 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Moon and More by Sarah DessenReviewer: Rowena
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 4th 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 435
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

I always look forward to reading a Sarah Dessen book because let’s be real, she’s pretty awesome.  I’ve always found something to love in every single one of her books and this book wasn’t any different.  I really enjoyed getting to know Emaline.  She wasn’t the easiest person to connect with but her issues were real and I connected with that.

When we first meet Emaline, she’s dating Luke and they seem pretty happy but when a new guy comes onto the scene, I thought that he’d be the love interest and while he was….I found myself curious over the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of his.  I never warmed up to him, the way that I usually do to Dessen boys.  I liked him okay, but I didn’t fall in love with him.  And there were even times when I didn’t even like him.  I kept wondering what the heck Em’s problem was that she would dump Luke for…Theo.

Em’s story unfolds pretty slowly but not in a boring way.  This book takes place in the summer and it’s very character driven so of course, I was a happy camper.  I really liked getting to know Em and her family (even when they were freaking crazy) and I thought the whole thing with her father was interesting.  And then of course, there was the drama with Luke.

There were times when Em frustrated me but Dessen did a good job of keeping my frustration at a minimum and making me understand why Em was thinking or doing the things that she was thinking.  As enjoyable as this book was, it’s not a favorite of mine.  That book still belongs to The Truth about Forever.  But this was a solid read.  One that I’m sure fans of the author will enjoy.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

This book is available from Viking Juvenile.  You can purchase it here or here in e-format.


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Posted October 18, 2012 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Keeping the Moon by Sarah DessenReviewer: Rowena
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin, Speak
Publication Date: September 1st 1999
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 228
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

There is an alternate cover edition for this ISBN13 here.

Colie expects the worst when she's sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast -- first for being fat and then for being "easy" -- Colie has no friends at home and doesn't expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina.

But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.

This is one of the very few Dessen books that I haven’t read yet and I finally picked it up last week. While it wasn’t my favorite Dessen book, it was still a very charming read.

This book follows Colie, who used to be fat as she spends the summer with her crazy Aunt Mira in the town we’ve all come to love through Sarah Dessen books, Colby. Colie is used to being bullied as she’s been bullied all of her life at school and because of this, she doesn’t let very many people close to keep from getting hurt when they inevitably do. The summer in Colby changes Colie for the better and as much as she drove me crazy through the book, I was so glad when I finally finished the book because there was growth and there were lessons learned and a boy that I came to adore throughout the entire book.

Colie’s Mom is a fitness guru who used to be big and transformed her and Colie’s life with a diet and exercise plan that changed their lives and made her an instant success story. Colie and her Mom used to live out of their car at times, move around all the time and that kind of lifestyle didn’t really help one stay healthy and so Colie and her mother were overweight for a good portion of Colie’s life and now that they’ve taken control of their health, they’re no longer big girls and yet Colie still doesn’t have the confidence in herself and in her looks the way that one would think after shedding so much weight.

Colie is distant and she’s reserved and for good reason. She’s been through things that I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through and my heart hurt for Colie as I got to know her because there were reasons for the way that she was and when she started to step out of her comfort zone and let others into her life, I cheered because she deserved the very best that life had to offer her and she shied away from everything because of the way that her peers treated her at school. She learned some very hard lessons early on in life and those lessons stayed with her and I loved when Isabelle and Morgan came into her life. I loved that they were older and wiser and were there when Colie most needed her. They were there to help her blossom into the young woman at the end of the book and boy did I really enjoy the way that they stepped into her life and made her accept them and then in turn, accepted her.

Then there was Norman. Oh, what a cutie patootie that guy turned out to be. I really liked getting to know him through Colie’s POV. He was mysterious and studly in a nerdy way and I adored him. I adored the way that he lived his life. I adored the way that he was always there and accepting of Colie, through all of her different looks. I loved the way that he was with Aunt Mira and how good he was to everyone around him. He was such a good guy and when Colie finally figures this out, I was a happy camper.

There were times when the story dragged a bit but it didn’t last very long. Leave to Sarah Dessen to write a complex story about one character with not much happening…and yet so much happening. I adore Dessen’s books and this was another winner for me. Great story.

…and that’s your scoop!

This book is available from Speak. This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit:


Tagged: , , , , , ,