Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Title: The Rest of the Story
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?
Review by Nara

The Rest of the Story is what I would call a "quiet contemporary". It doesn't have a huge conflict or a big mystery or much action. But it focuses on issues that anyone could relate to and a compelling main character who has interesting thoughts that help drive the plot forward.

Emma Saylor feels split between her two identities as described in the blurb, and split between her two families. The summer in which the novel is set is the first summer that she can properly remember meeting her mother's family and it's a chance for her to explore the environment in which her mother grew up and where her parents met.

The romance was cute but what I appreciated most was that it took a backseat to the more important aspect of the novel in our protagonist's discovery of her identity and her developing relationships with the family that she's never known.

Overall the formula was quite standard Dessen, but it's a formula that works well. If you've liked her other books you will most likely like this one too.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 2/5