The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin

From the publisher:

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?

I’ve read every book Sarah Dessen has written, and generally I love her stuff. I definitely liked The Moon and More quite a bit, but unfortunately I typically expect to be blown away by this author and this book was just good enough – not the special brand of awesome I’ve come to expect from Dessen. The characters were great, though, really – Emmaline won me over with her drive, determination, and fierce love for her family, Theo was interesting and different and highly entertaining, and Luke seemed on the surface to be boring, but towards the end of the novel he really came to life and I ended up liking him quite a bit. Also, the picture that Dessen painting of the small beach town they lived in was so quaint and alluring, I wanted to go visit as soon as possible. The problem is that there are Dessen novels that I LOVE and this is just not one of them. But still a great YA novel, nonetheless.

Donna Freitas The Survival KitThe Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
Published by Frances Foster Books, an imprint of Macmillan

From the publisher:

When Rose’s mom dies, she leaves behind a brown paper bag labeled Rose’s Survival Kit. Inside the bag, Rose finds an iPod, with a to-be-determined playlist; a picture of peonies, for growing; a crystal heart, for loving; a paper star, for making a wish; and a  paper kite, for letting go.

As Rose ponders the meaning of each item, she finds herself returning again and again to an unexpected source of comfort. Will is her family’s gardener, the school hockey star, and the only person who really understands what she’s going through. Can loss lead to love?

Now, THIS book I loved. Rose’s pain is just so raw and real and tugged at my heartstrings times a million. I came to love her and root for her and truly hope that she would find a way to manage her grief and learn how to enjoy her life again. The romance between her and Will built up so slowly and in such a sweet way that I couldn’t stop reading their story. By the end of the novel I was truly in tears, crying with both happiness and genuine sorrow for Rose and her situation, and for how much she grew up over the course of the book. Truly, I loved this novel and it comes with a very high recommendation from me!