Review: Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

OOF.

So here we are, at post #3 of my *summer of Sarah Dessen*, and all I can say is wow. I know I must seem incredibly vain to say this, but I feel like Sarah Dessen has been writing for me all of these years. I really wish I had read these books as a teenager; perhaps my life would have seemed a little less hard. Okay, now that I have gotten that off my chest, let me get straight into it.

Keeping the Moon

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When Colie gets off the train in Colby, North Carolina, she figures she is in for the worst summer of her life. Her famous fitness guru mother Kiki Sparks has shipped Colie off to her aunt Mira’s for the summer, as she tours around Europe. Life has not been easy for Colie. Formerly overweight and bullied at school, she has a hard time opening up to people, and doesn’t expect it to be different in Colby. But with the help of the people she meets along the way – the eccentric and kind-hearted Mira and Norman, the insane and fun Isabel and Morgan, Colie might finally find a place where she belongs.

(Dessen, 1999).

My thoughts

I cried. Although in my last review I mentioned I was okay with putting the book down, with Keeping the Moon it was different. I could not stop reading it. I read it in three sittings, and the only reason it took me so long was because of work and mandatory sleep. I started reading before bed, on the bus ride to work, and then after work. This book was just that good. Of course, I need to tell you why.

I was bullied growing up. Like Colie, there was never really a reason why. I was too skinny and later on too fat. First it was because of the mole I have on my forehead, and later on the acne on my face. I was always too sensitive, I didn’t like the right music, I didn’t have the right friends, I didn’t like the right guys. Even today, I still struggle with it. The result? I have an eating disorder, and poor self-esteem. I am not telling you this for you to feel sorry for me. They are just facts about myself, but I don’t let them define me. I work on me every day and I am not ashamed of it. I am, however, telling you this, because I was Colie, I still am Colie – looking every day to find myself and accept me for who I am. So to say I identify with this book is an understatement. Every insecurity I have ever felt, all the self-doubt, the inner turmoil – Sarah Dessen has written out onto pages for all to read. If I wasn’t a fan before, I definitely am now. Thank you, Sarah Dessen, for writing this book.

To be honest, it’s very hard for me right now to get my emotions in check. If you read this book, you may not get the same reaction. It may not speak to you the way it has spoken to me, but I urge you to give it a chance. For one, it sends wonderful messages to young girls out there:

  1. It doesn’t matter what people say or think. What matters is that you love yourself for who you are.
  2. Failure doesn’t exist as long as you’ve tried
  3. Don’t judge others based on appearances, but the way you yourself would like to be judged
  4. Confidence is everything
  5. In order to be respected, you must respect yourself first

I believe these life lessons are applicable not only to young girls, but to women of all ages. Beyond these empowering messages, there is also a multitude of wonderful secondary characters (Mira, Morgan, Isabel, Norman, Kiki – I loved them all), humour, and a little bit of romance. In this day and age, where body-shaming is the norm, where we obsess over dieting and working out to achieve unattainable ideals that society has set for us, this is definitely a book I would recommend. And of course, as usual, Sarah Dessen has done a remarkable job – it is beautifully written and an easy read.

I don’t want to give anything else away. Even if you are not normally into YA, please read this.

Sincerely,
The Struggling Librarian

References
Dessen, S. (1999). Keeping the moon. New York: Viking.
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