The story is… I love this book!
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen follows Emma Saylor after her father remarries several years after her mother passed away and he goes on his honeymoon. When Emma’s plans fall through of where to stay for the summer, she ends up at the lake where her mother grew up with family she hasn’t seen since childhood.
Even though I bought this book when it was released, I put off reading it. While I loved Sarah Dessen’s books in high school, I haven’t been impressed with her most recent releases, especially the one before this book, Once and For All. That being said, The Rest of the Story took me back to the classic Sarah Dessen writing that I knew and loved so long ago.
One aspect of a classic Sarah Dessen book is a well-rounded cast of characters and this book was no exception. Emma has a large family in this book, but each character has their own distinct personality, although these personalities may resemble other characters in past Sarah Dessen books. I especially loved getting to know the characters on the North Lake side of the lake because all of these characters were so realistic to the setting where they lived.
Another one of my favorite aspects of Sarah Dessen’s books are they may seem like they are about nothing because the plot is very reflective of someone’s everyday life, but really they are about everything with the metaphors that she creates. Every Sarah Dessen story has some sort of lesson, which may annoy some readers, but I actually enjoy. The message in this book, as well as some aspects of the plot, reminded me a lot of one of my favorite Dessen books, The Truth About Forever.
For me, one of the factors that really sells a book is the emotional connection. Without it, I rarely give a book five stars unless I find it technically well done. With The Rest of the Story, I really related to the main character, Emma Saylor. Young adult books are successful when they capture universal feelings at that time so you can relate to the story no matter when you read it, and for me, Saylor’s actions and feelings reminded me so much of myself, it was hard not to get invested in the story.
One aspect of the book that was a little out of place to me was the ending. Dessen often does a great job of foreshadowing some aspect of the ending and that certainly was there. At the same time, the last big part of the book, which takes place during a storm that comes out of nowhere, felt a little out of place in the novel. I get the purpose that it served in the novel, and I suppose it was briefly foreshadowed at the beginning of the book, but it just seemed so different than the rest of the book to me. However, this was incredibly minor to me and because of all the reasons I mentioned above, it didn’t greatly hinder my reading experience.
As I was reading this book, I didn’t want it to end because I just wanted to stay with these characters longer. I think this is one of those books that I read just at the right time for me. This is definitely one of my favorite books that I read this year so far, so it is no surprise that I am giving it five stars.