Book Review: Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

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Synopsis: 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.

Why I Chose This Book: This follows my tradition of reading clearance Sarah Dessen books while waiting for Half-Price to tally up my book offer. It also follows the tradition of getting me so caught up that I use some of the money they offer me to buy it.

First Impressions: At first, I didn’t love the cover. It’s generic, fits any early 2000’s summer romance book. But the sunglasses, svelte body, and flower all tie into the story, so I’m not mad about it. Just wish it could have been done in a more deliberate way?

What I Liked: This book is so relatable. Most girls struggle with loving their bodies/fitness/weight/self-image. It’s so empowering, it has amazing friendships, different kinds of love, there’s tons of art and music involved. I just love so much about it! Kiki wasn’t the stereotypical absent mom, and truly cared for her daughter. Also, there are some gorgeous quotes that pull on a subtle recurring theme of universes, and how everyone has a different view of the world. Mira and Norman had me heart-eyeing at them the whole time. And there’s a bad-for-you love subplot that I totally understood and hated that it was so relatable! But it was accurate and true.

There’s also a character that says mean, snide things and is just such a mean girl. And this book had a lesson that was all too true: (MINOR SPOILER ALERT)

 

 

 

 

 

We don’t always get to tell off our Bea’s. And that’s something we have to find peace with.

 

 

 

 

SPOILER OVER

What I Didn’t Like: How short it was! I always want more from Dessen. Also, I hated Mark and Bea!!!

Ratings and Recommendations: Fans of summer romance, YA, coming-of-age stories, feminist messages that don’t hit you over the head with it

2. Loved It

Final Thoughts: Loved it! It made me cry a couple of times. I can’t wait for my next Dessen book!!

Sound off in the comments: What did you think of this book? What’s your favorite Sarah Dessen book? Did you relate to Keeping the Moon? Let me know!

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Bookworm Quirks: Crying Over Spilled Ink, or, How Books Emotionally Manipulate Me

Crying Over Spilled Ink

Many bookworms know the struggle of ‘the feels’, when a book makes you feel a lot of emotions, typically unhappy ones. Being a Highly Sensitive Person, I’m very subjective to emotional manipulation. So being a reader is a tough gig.

Some books are about tragic things, such as The Fault in Our Stars. Others hit me in ways they shouldn’t, like Off the Page and Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer. Others have intense scenes that have gorgeous wording or imagery, as seen in Just Listen and Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen.

In TFiOS, characters meet because of their poor health. From page one, we know this can only end in tears. In my case, when I read it in one sitting in the back of a car on a road trip, I had nine separate sobbing sessions. It hurt. You know in Shakespeare in Love, how Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet to prove love could be portrayed on the stage? It felt like John Green wrote TFiOS to prove it would be accurately written. While Green is known for writing pretentious teenagers, these felt real. Like I could have known them from school or seen them at the movies. And that makes the ending hit so much harder. Anyone can get sick. Even people you know.

Have you ever seen that tumblr post that begs someone to write a novel where the main character falls in love with the reader? It’s already happened. Jodi Picoult teamed up with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer to create a duology about a prince stuck in a fairy tale and the reader who wants to help him escape. The second book deals with the falling out of their efforts. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it hit me so hard. I’m in a long distance relationship in which we only get to see each other once or twice a year. I was reading these books near the end of a visit to see him, and many of the feelings I was struggling with were reflected in the novel. I was crying and sobbing while he held me close, begging me to stop reading if I was so upset. But if I read it when he wasn’t there, who would comfort me? I still haven’t been able to reread the books since, even though they are among my all time favorites.

Sarah Dessen is the QUEEN of YA romance. She creates characters that feel real but don’t seem ordinary. And in Keeping the Moon, she tore at issues I’ve long fought with. Colie was a bigger girl that was laughed at, made fun of, and bullied terribly. She lost weight when her mom became a fitness guru, but still felt like that girl everyone was judging. I felt like Sarah Dessen was writing about me, but the sad reality is that many girls feel this way. In Just Listen, the main character has to get past her assumptions and judgements to find where her life is taking her after a huge life change. She feels like her world is ending, but in the grand scheme of things, they aren’t. I am so bad at that! Every tiny setback sends me spiraling, and I also have to learn the importance of this quote: “Don’t think, don’t judge. Just listen.”

All of these books broke and fixed and broke my heart. Among SO MANY MORE. So tell me: what books did you cry over? Why? Did you have similar reactions to these books? Sound off in the comments!

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Bookworm Quirks: Kinds of Love I Love, or, Relationships I Love to Read About

Kinds of Love I Love

Most books are about romance of some kind. I’m not complaining about it because I’ve always been in love with love. But as anyone who has to constantly defend their adoration of Valentine’s Day will tell you, there are several kinds of love and they all deserve to be written about!! Here are my favorites and a few books that fulfill that need.

Family Love

My Life Next Door

There are few things I love more than a well-written family that gets along. You know when you watched Easy A for the first time and could not stop laughing at Olive’s amazing parents and brother? They are so fun! Who wouldn’t want a family like that? Well, that’s the feeling I’m always searching for when I pick up a new book. Thankfully, My Life Next Door hits the spot. The Garretts are so real and loving. It shows that families don’t always have to get along to be amazing, and that love is what makes life worthwhile. There’s love overflowing between these characters, and it’s such a delight to read about them.

Sibling Love

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Related to Family Love (HA! Get it? Related. They’re siblings and family!), Sibling Love is all about the brothers and sisters that would do anything for each other. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is gorgeous in so many ways, but especially in the ways Lara Jean interacts with her sisters. There’s so much love without it feeling forced or fake. I’m so here for it!

Friendship Love

Keeping the Moon

THIS IS MY FAVORITE KIND. I LOVE FRIENDS. There are so many books I could use for this, but Keeping the Moon really satisfied everything I look for in a story about friendship. It had the struggle of wanting to support a friend who keeps making decisions that are TERRIBLE for them, trying to fit in when you don’t know who you are, and allowing others to show you your best traits. I just love friendship SO MUCH, y’all.

Self-Love

Keeping the Moon

Keeping the Moon also deals a lot with something I’m so glad to see emerging into the YA scene: self-love. Dumplin is also very much about loving yourself, but I haven’t read it yet (I know, I’m terrible!). Colie recently lost forty pounds when her mom because an international fitness guru, but she still sees herself as the fat girl at the dance everyone laughed at. But through breaking down her walls and making new friends, she learns that she is strong, no matter her size. YES, PLEASE!

What are the kinds of love you love reading about? Do you have any book suggestions? Sound off in the comments!

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Book Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

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Info: 371 pages, paperback, Contemporary YA, published April 6th, 2006

Synopsis: Annabel Green is “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s what she portrays in her modeling shoots. But Annabel’s life is far from perfect. Her friendship with Sophie ended bitterly, and her older sister’s eating disorder is weighing down the entire family. Isolated and ostracized at school and at home, Annabel retreats into silent acceptance. Then she meets Owen–-intense, music obsessed, and determined to always tell the truth. And with his guidance, Annabel learns to just listen to herself and gains the courage to speak honestly. But will she be able to tell everyone what really happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends?

Why I Chose This Book: I was selling books and CDs at Half Price, and had some time to kill. Obviously, that wasn’t difficult! I love the clearance section at this particular store, but this was the only book that looked interesting. It was only a dollar, so it was an easy choice.

First Impressions: This could be the cover for any book published in the early 2000’s. Very generic, very YA romance. With the artistry of the content, I would have loved to see a better cover. This is the kind of book I feel so stereotypical for reading, so I don’t want to be seen reading it. If that makes any sense?

What I Liked: I know I say this a lot, but everything. I’ve only read one Dessen book before, and I let hype get to me so of course it was a let down. I should probably reread that book now that I’ve given her a second chance to blow my freakin mind. I loved this book. I laughed, I cried, I skyped my boyfriend because it made me miss him so much. I don’t know if anyone writes falling in love like Dessen does. She knows exactly how it feels, how it makes your heart soar and fall at the smallest word. While I was reading and making notes, I couldn’t stop raving. I have notes that say “pg 331-333: *******’s reading. Tears. Crying. Sobbing. Why.” and “Okay. Phew. Teary for last 150 pages, but when not full out avoiding a breakdown, SO GOOD.” I seriously have at least five characters names with hearts everywhere. This book just…I cannot describe the experience of reading it.

What I Didn’t Like: That it ended? I don’t even need this section for this book.

Ratings and Recommendations: If you like YA romance at all, please read this book. If you like reading books that strike a cord and make you feel more than you want to, read this. Just read it.

2. Loved It

Final Thoughts: Obviously, music is a big part of this book. There were a couple places where the music I was listening to just synced so well with the book.

Chapter 12: the runway show. Listen to Arrival of the Birds by Cinematic Orchestra from the Crimson Wing
Page 327: ‘tentative, careful peace’. Listen to The Theory of Everything by Johann Johannsson

Sound off in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think? What’s your favorite novel by Sarah Dessen?

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