In light of the upcoming publication of Sarah Dessen’s new novel, The Moon and More, in June of this year, the cat wanted to get another Sarah Dessen fix real quick! There’s nothing better to pick you up after a slew of average books than a Sarah Dessen book! Even when she’s not at the top of her game, her books are always entertaining, immensely readable and like chocolate for my inner girl!
In Keeping the Moon – a Dessen oldie, her 3rd novel and originally published in 1999 – 15-year-old Colie Sparks is our protagonist. She used to be fat, but once her mom found comfort in exercising and found out that not only was she really good at it, but she also loved it with an unabashed enthusiasm that made her into one of the nation’s most famous fitness gurus, Colie lost 45 pounds. What she didn’t lose, though, was her insecurity. When her mom is off to Europe to tour with her fitness program, Colie is sent to her unconventional aunt Mira in Colby. In Colby she starts working at the Last Chance* diner, where she also meets Morgan and Isabel, who are potentially the first friends she ever has in her life.
Like in many of her other books, Dessen is very good at pointing out similarities and differences in people’s relationships and the reasons why people behave the way they behave. Dessen is a character-writer. She seems to love all of her (female) protagonists a lot (despite and because of their flaws!), which is very infectious! It’s hard not to feel with Colie and her insecurities. Dessen usually takes a lot of time to have her main characters build relationships with the people around her (including the love interests! No insta-loves here!), who all have their own past to deal with,… nothing is ever rushed in a Dessen novel. In Keeping the Moon, she hasn’t yet fully acquired that skill yet (it’s a slender novel, compared to some of her more recent work), but it’s great to see some really believably female friendships so early on in her writing career, and to see her be such a champion of self-esteem! I’m greatly looking forward to The Moon and More (which is apparently also set in Colby!).
* This book can also be found under another title: Last Chance. The 2012 Speak Reissue I read (cf. cover photo), has the original title, though.