From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Dessen aims for the Moon with her latest novel and manages the landing quite wonderfully. Readers looking for a story as warm and real as The Truth About Forever (Viking, 2004) need look no further. Emaline works hard, both in school and at her family's realty office with three generations of women handling beach-vacation rentals in the small southern town of Colby. Her efforts get her accepted to Columbia, but when her birth father, back in her life after being absent for 10 years, suddenly and inexplicably withdraws his offer of substantial help, she has to settle for a less-prestigious school just two hours away. One advantage: her boyfriend, Luke, will also be there. Summer starts off normally: her dad, the one who married her teenaged mother and adopted Emaline years ago, is still fixing up their house; her older stepsister is bossing her around at work; and Em is passing out keys and towels and hanging around with her best friends, Daisy and Morris. Characters are crafted with care to be whole and realistic, so readers will be immersed when Emaline meets the New Yorkers who rent a mansion for the summer to make a documentary about local character Clyde, once quite a big deal on the art scene. Theo, the filmmaker's cute assistant, seems smitten with Emaline; and when Luke indulges in clubbing with a pretty tourist, the dream couple breaks up, enabling Emaline to spend some time with someone new. Complications romantic and familial help crystallize the strength in Emaline as her understanding transitions from youth to adulthood.-Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Emaline is on that precipice familiar to most new high-school grads: knowing where you come from, anticipating where you’re heading, and struggling to reconcile the two. She’s a lifer in the small beach town of Colby (the setting of two of Dessen’s previous novels), comfortable with her longtime boyfriend, Luke, her chaotic blended family, and a job at Colby Realty. But when NYU student Theo and his boss arrive to film a documentary about reclusive local artist Clyde Conaway—and Emaline’s biological father and half brother come to town—summer takes unexpected twists. On the same day that it’s over with Luke, Emaline kisses Theo; but is he just a summer fling, or could he be something more? Dessen returns to familiar crowd-pleasing territory here, offering up perfect beach weather, plenty of romance, and a capable protagonist coming to terms with change. As always, she explores YA-relatable themes, from divorce to absentee parents, in nuanced and thought-provoking ways (“You think it’s all obvious and straightforward, this world. But really, it’s all in who’s doing the looking”). Fans will be waiting; after all, it’s not summer without Dessen. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A national author tour and major media campaign ensure that this is as well received as Dessen’s previous best-selling titles. Grades 8-12. --Ann Kelley