#ReadADessen campaign: Keeping the Moon review

Today I'm really excited to be part of the #ReadADessen campaign Penguin is putting on in honor of Sarah's 13th book, Once and For All! Each week, a group of bloggers are focusing on two Dessen titles in release order. This week my group is sharing the love for Dessen books 3 & 4: Keeping the Moon and Dreamland! Everyone has a different post topic so you'll find playlists, reviews, fancasts, and more at all the different stops. Be sure to check them all out and enter to win the grand prize: a full paperback set of all of Sarah's books! I posted the schedule below, but first: my review of Keeping the Moon + some fun picks for sunglasses collector extraordinaire Norman might have hiding away. Enjoy!

Rating: 3.5 stars
Release Date: September 1, 1999
Publisher: Viking Books
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: hardcover, from the library
Status: standalone

While her mother, aerobics queen Kiki Sparks, spends the summer touring Europe, fifteen-year-old Colie Sparks is stuck in sleepy Colby, North Carolina. But she's not complaining. For one thing, her Aunt Mira is a sweet, laid-back eccentric; for another, no one knows that back home in Charlotte Colie is seen as a formerly-fat "golf-course slut," the school scapegoat. 

Then, by fate or by accident, Colie lands a waitressing job, where she meets Morgan and Isabel. The two wisecracking—and wise—20-something waitresses help her turn her life around, and realize the potential that has been there all along. 

Keeping the Moon is not one of Sarah Dessen's "A list" books. If you were to ask someone about Sarah Dessen's books, they'll probably lead with The Truth About Forever or Just Listen or This Lullaby or Saint Anything. Keeping the Moon is like Sarah Dessen on the DL, but it's still super classic Dessen. I didn't realize this until I read Sarah's 5 fun facts about Keeping the Moon, but this one was the first set in Colby—Colby being one of the key settings of the overarching Dessenverse™ (the other being Lakeview)—and our first introduction to the Last Chance, home of the best fries in North Carolina. Despite this, Keeping the Moon isn't a flashy Dessen title, and even though it's nearly 20 years old, I think it's still pretty applicable to today.

Colie is exiled to Colby (boy, was THAT weird to listen to in the audio!) for the summer because of her mother's publicity tour in Europe, but after being bullied by her truly horrid classmates, Colby doesn't seem so bad once Colie gets used to it. I think there are a lot of kids for whom, sadly, this bullied storyline really resonates. And with Caroline the bully, like all bullies, there's nothing Colie can do to make it stop. Caroline fat-shamed her when Colie was fat and then slut-shamed her when she lost weight and dared to hang out with a boy on a golf course one time. But throughout the summer, Colie starts to gain confidence after she gets a job and makes a couple friends in Isabel, Morgan, and Norman. It's not a magical fix at all. I like how the changes that come to Colie are subtle and take time.

Keeping the Moon also does a good job exploring the complexities of girl friendships. Morgan and Isabel are SO DIFFERENT from one another, but it's clear there's a lot of love between the two of them. They fight frequently, and Sarah makes sure to distinguish between typical friend bickering and the Big Fights. I love how they fold Colie into their little group, but her relationship with each of them is so distinct and separate. That's completely true. Even in a larger friend group, your individual friendships with each person will differ from other people's with that same person. You might even act differently alone than you would with the whole group, and that's okay. It's what the group chat and separate DMs are for. ;)

Finally, while YA desperately needs WAY more positive fat rep than just Dumplin' and The Upside of Unrequited, I appreciate the need Keeping the Moon fills: the post weight-loss book. Sure, Colie's mom is this fitness guru who tries to motivate people, but Keeping the Moon is NOT the weight loss book. It's the weight is gone but how do I feel about it and how has my identity changed? book. Colie is a thin girl NOW, but her peers don't treat her as one. As a fat girl, she felt invisible, almost protected and safer than she is now that she's a skinny girl with nothing to shield her from their taunts. I can appreciate this (but I can understand how some fat readers might feel like Colie is feeling sorry for herself for being skinny. I don't think so, but I can see how it might bother others).  Colie's lack of confidence is completely tied up in how she looks and how others treat her, and what I like about Keeping the Moon is that it's like the anti-weight loss book: it shows that weight loss isn't necessarily the insta-popularity magnet some books/tv shows/movies promise it to be. Instead, Colie has to grow over the summer, explore her identity with the help of this oddball crew in Colby.

Keeping the Moon is a sweet story with a lot of heart. I think some readers might not connect with the relatively slow pace and small changes, but for those looking for a fun summer book with multi-faceted character development, boss girls, and a sneaky hot artsy boy, Keeping the Moon is for you.

Norman's Sunglasses:
Norman, the adorkable, quiety artsy love interest in Keeping the Moon keeps a collection of sunglasses in the glove compartment in his car and pretty much everywhere. I thought it would be fun to create a collection of sunglasses he might have picked up at garage sales and farmers markets. Click photo for purchase links (all from Amazon bc I'm not cool enough to find awesome sunglasses at garage sales and farmers markets *hides face in shame*).

 Classic aviator because it's a staple. 

 Surely every self-respecting rummage sale has polka dot cat eye sunglasses for sale!

 Honestly coveting these floral wayfarers!
 If a YA heroine isn't wearing heart-shaped sunglasses, is she even a YA heroine?

 'Murica! *fist pump* (NGL, I kind of love these)
 Norman isn't a video game kind of nerd, but he IS a nerdy book boyfriend. 
I love these fun pixel sunglasses!

 These round frames look vintage hippie-ish & 
I definitely think Norman would have a pair.

The neon plastic wayfarer is a glove compartment staple. 
I have, like, 5 pairs of these. They're EVERYWHERE.
Having 10 different colors would not be beyond Norman.

Okay, the emojis are probably a little too modern for Norman,
but these are so cute & fun! Emoji sunglasses would bring this
book into current day no problem. :)

Norman would definitely have pair of these... "stach'ed" away!

*insert YEAAAAAAAAH scream here*

Purchase Links:

Coming Soon: 

Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Status: standalone

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Preorder Links:

#ReadADessen Tour Schedule
Week 2:

April 24: In Wonderland

April 26: Grownup Fangirl
April 26: SuperSpaceChick

About the Author:
Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.

Author Links:

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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  1. Oooh this is fun! I love all the sunglasses!

    1. Honestly, I don't know how I didn't buy all of them while I was window shopping.

  2. I love the floral ones. My youngest got me started on Dessen. She chose her audiobooks for our vacations and I was hooked from then on.

    1. I've read all of Sarah's books, but I've listened to very few of the audiobooks. LOVED the one for Saint Anything!

  3. The sunglasses are fun, especially the ones with the mustache. I haven't read any of her books yet, and it's great to know that Keeping the Moon probably shouldn't be the one I start with. Thanks for the fun post!

  4. I'm just starting to read her books because so many people I talk to praise them. I can't wait :)