The Moon and More

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From Sarah:

Every¬†time I finish a book, I think I will never be able to write another one. There’s a certain burnout phase that follows writing, editing and preparing a novel for publication: to paraphrase my mentor Lee Smith, you don’t want to write ANYTHING for awhile, not even your name. That was how I was feeling when I finished WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE. I had no ideas, no energy, not much of anything. But then, I went to the beach.

I was in Emerald Isle, which is the beach town in NC that is basically my Colby, sitting by the pool at our rental house, reading a book. I heard the gate open and looked over to see a guy coming in, shirtless, with a bunch of pool cleaning equipment. He smiled, waved. “Hey, how’s it going?” he said. “Good,” I replied. “You?” And then he started talking. About the busy season, and being from Emerald Isle and what it was like to be a local in a vacation spot. He told me about his job cleaning pools, and his side job working on a charter fishing boat, all while cleaning the pool. When he left about fifteen minutes later, I thought: Well, there’s my next book. It was like he’d just walked in and handed it to me.

I’d written about Colby before, but always from the perspective of someone who came there for a summer that, as typically happens in my books, changes everything. But what if you were permanent in a place that to most people is so temporary, only existing for a week or so each summer? What would THAT be like? That’s where Emaline came from. I will be forever grateful to that chatty, shirtless pool guy for the gift he gave me, just by showing up. That’s the crazy thing about writing. When you least expect or even want it, the story just appears.


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.