May 26, 2017

#ReadADessen: The Moon and More

I’m thrilled to be a part of #ReadADessen, a campaign hosted by Penguin Teen to count down to the release of Sarah Dessen’s upcoming book, Once and For All (out in June! I also just finished reading it the other day, and found it adorable.). This week, I get the opportunity to talk about a Dessen novel that meant a great deal to me on a personal level when I read it: The Moon and More.

The Moon & Moore book cover
The Moon and More is all about a girl who tries to come to terms with what she wants for herself and her future the summer before college is due to start. Emaline has spent all her life in Colby, a small town where everyone knows everyone and their story. She has always been certain of the direction she wants to take with her life... until the summer before college when she meets a boy who challenges her perspectives on the future. As always, I was wooed by Sarah Dessen's ability to create characters - flawed and wonderful and real - that I cared about, particularly main character Emaline. But what really had me loving this story was the nostalgia I felt as I read it. The way Dessen elaborates on Emaline's feelings as she experiences the tumult of a crossroads summer was deeply relatable for me.

Summer has always been my season. While I joke that it has a lot to do with me being a summer baby (Where are my fellow Leos at?), that's not the only reason I've always been drawn to summers. Summer means fun and sun, hours spent doing anything that I fancy and days that feel simultaneously slower and quicker than normal. But summer has also always been the season where I experience the biggest changes.

It was a summer as a pre-teen, for instance, when I fell head over heels into the world of fan fiction and discovered that I liked writing. It was summer when I worked at an internship that eventually landed me my first job after I graduated. I traveled - both on my own or with my family and friends - and realized that I enjoyed visiting all sorts of places. I got engaged in the middle of summer. I fell in love - with my life and with who I was - during one important summer. Each of the things summer brought into (or out of) my life shaped me, but there's one life-changing summer in particular that inspired me to write this post: the summer a year after I moved to New York.

2010-2017 summer photos
I wrote about my experience moving to New York three years ago. Though I was born in the good ol’ USA and raised here for eight years, it was still an overwhelming, exhilarating experience to return and try to find my place here as an adult. But this year, in a couple of weeks, I will be celebrating my seventh anniversary of living in this beautiful, busy city – and despite the ups and the downs, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Every one of my summers here has been filled with colorful memories shared with family and friends.

But it's the 2011 summer that will always be the most memorable - my own crossroads summer. That was the summer where I started attempting to answer this question: How do you hold on to the things you love, the things that shaped you, even as you want to leave and chase after your dreams, even as they hurt you? It wasn't all sunshine, mind you. There were terrible choices and bad moments; there were confusing thoughts and questionable scenarios. But that was the summer that, without a doubt, molded me into who I am these days. Independent, but nurturing of the relationships that matter. Vulnerable, but strong when it counts. Clever and silly and honest and dorky and hopeful and faithful. I was becoming true to the me that was always there, but afraid to reveal itself in its entirety to the world - and by the end of that summer, I had changed for the better.

The magic of a life-changing summer is a real thing, folks. It's not just a story that you read, though Sarah Dessen is one of those magical authors who writes that type of tale well. It's true and it's real, and without a doubt, it's happened to many of us - myself included. I look forward to more life-changing summers to come, and I fervently hope that you feel the same way too. Cheers to the magical possibilities of the summer to come!

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.


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