It was about damn time for a little more Sarah Dessen in my life — I mean, it’s been almost two years! — and boy did I pick a good one.
Keeping the Moon is classic Dessen: 15-year-old Colie moves to our favorite little beach town, Colby, North Carolina, for the summer to stay with her eccentric aunt while her fitness celeb mom tours Europe for a few months. Colie definitely has an attitude and a dark cloud over her head, excruciatingly insecure about when she used to be fat and about a vicious rumor spread by the evil popular girl in her high school. But of course, the usual cast of Colby-esque characters are there to help her realize her inner beauty and wonderfulness and all that jazz.
First we meet Norman, who picks up Colie from the train station to take her to her aunt Mira’s, where Norman also happens to live (in the basement). If Aunt Mira is eccentric, Norman is just plain weird, both of them filling every room in the house with all sorts of junk and doodads. Next come Isabel and Morgan, who work at the Last Chance diner (a character in and of itself in many a Dessen story) and who immediately start teaching Colie a thing or two about being real girlfriends. Colie ends up working at the Last Chance because, why not, and in the process becomes pretty decent friends with naive Morgan, while skeptical Isabel keeps her icy distance.
It’s obvious from the get-go, as things usually go in Dessen novels, that Colie and Norman are meant to be in that young star-crossed summer romance kind of way, and they definitely develop an easy and adorable friendship during all those long days and nights at the Last Chance. Their relationship comes to a climax when Norman decides to paint a portrait of Colie as part of a series for his art school portfolio, which is where he’ll be going in the fall.
One thing that’s slightly different from other Dessen novels in this one, though, is that the Colie-Norman relationship isn’t really the central focus of the book, it’s more about Colie’s relationships with Mira, Morgan, and Isabel, and getting out of her own head and bullsh!t for five minutes and realizing that she has it pretty good in life, she just has to start to believe it. (I mean, who can’t relate to that?) I think a few things in the story are left a little undone — like, I wish Colie had the chance to yell at all the a-holes in Colby who make fun of her darling aunt, and that her “moment” with the evil popular girl had involved some stronger words, and that we learned Morgan and Isabel’s ages at some point because they were definitely way older than 15, but overall this is exactly what I wanted from another deliciously comforting Sarah Dessen book.