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Title:  Keeping the Moon
Author:  Sarah Dessen
Release date:  September 1, 1999
Publisher:  Speak
Pages:  240
Genre:  Young Adult Fiction
Source:  Personal copy

Colie Sparks is nervous about this upcoming summer – she has to spend two months with her eccentric aunt Mira while her fitness-instructor mother tours the country teaching people about how to lose weight and get fit.  Upon arriving at Mira’s, Colie meets Norman, a teenage houseguest of Mira’s, and Morgan and Isabel, the girls who work at the local cafe where Colie ends up taking a summer job.  Although Colie has always felt shy and insecure about herself, this may finally be the summer for her to step out of her comfort zone, make her first true friends, and start to figure out who she really is.

What I love about Sarah Dessen’s book is that there’s always this aspect to them of the main character growing as a person.  Keeping the Moon is no exception.  Colie and her mom used to be very overweight, and even though they’ve lost it and now live healthy lives, Colie still feels ugly and sad inside.  She’s never really had any friends, no boy has ever been interested in her, and her own mother doesn’t spend a ton of time connecting with her.  So it’s difficult for her, at first, to adjust to the fact that people – Mira, Norman, Morgan, and Isabel – actually want to spend time getting to know her… and they actually seem to like her!

So, really, Keeping the Moon is about Colie’s journey to understand, accept, and even love herself when she never had before.  And I really, really liked it.  Colie felt real to me – I personally identified with so many aspects of her personality, and I was just hoping for her to find herself and appreciate the person she truly was.  As always, Dessen wrote superior supporting characters, and I loved getting to know them too.  Isabel was actually my favorite – even though she seemed hard and unfeeling at first, she was actually the person who had the most in common with Colie, and who ended up caring about her the most.  I loved where Dessen took Colie and Isabel’s friendship.

I honestly don’t think that I can say a bad thing about Sarah Dessen, just because I’m such a big fan of her work.  The good thing is that in the case of Keeping the Moon, I’m not even tempted to.  This is a sweet novel with wonderful characters and a great message for teen girls.  I’m so happy that I read it.