Saturday, January 3, 2015

Keeping the Status Quo

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen is a fun, contemporary novel about finding yourself.

I've had this book for two years, and even though I've loved Dessen's other works, I kept pushing it aside for other reads. I think part of it was my copy (a slightly water-damaged garage sale find with this truly atrocious cover), and part of it was just that I kept wanting to read other things more. But when I was looking over my bookshelf, I realized that this was the book that I'd moved across the country that I'd owned the longest. And I was feeling like a fun read. Like I needed to feel like it was summer outside and that all the possibilities of the world were at my fingertips. Maybe that was too much pressure to put on one book. This one didn't quite live up to my expectations. But it still left me feeling a little warm and gooey inside.

Colie is the daughter of Kiki Sparks, fitness guru extraordinare. Both Kiki and Colie were overweight. But Kiki got her life together and helped Colie lose 45 pounds too. Unfortunately, high school is a cruel world and now that people could no longer tease Colie for being fat, they created a rumor that she was a slut. Now Colie is spending the summer with her Aunt Mira while her mom travels Europe promoting her weight-loss products. Colie ends up with a job at a local diner, and finds herself with the possibility of friends for the first time.

I think my reservations come from the back story more than the current text. I know that high schoolers can be cruel, but I also know that they can be kind. It's unfair to make Colie completely alone. I mean, I would never disagree with someone if they told me that was their experience, but I also know that my high school group of friends was the little catch all group. And there were also smaller groups of just a few people who became friends because they felt like no one else wanted them. Outsiders usually find each other. I also have reservations about the weight loss portion. I'm fat. My parents constantly push me to lose weight. I hate it. I might be "normal" weight, but I feel great. I exercise. I eat healthy. I live my life. Weight loss is not some magical solution. You can be beautiful and fat. And frankly, you can be awesome and be a slut. Sexual activity is not something to look down on. And I get that in high school people usually haven't reached that level of awareness, but how cool would it have been if Colie had been sexually active and had still been fat, and still managed to find herself beautiful and worthy at the end of the book?

I do love Dessen's knack for details. She's consistent in her characterizations. Mira is wonderful (and does embody the fat self-love that I'm begging for), and Morgan and Isabel are such a good example of the highs and lows of best-friendship. I wonder how Dessen feels about this book now. It was her third published text in 1999, and I feel like she has grown so much as a writer, and our culture has changed so much from then that the story might take a different path if she were to write it now.

Overall, I'd still recommend it to people looking for a nice contemporary read. It's probably suitable for younger readers as well, because aside from the use of the word slut which I know puts off some people, it's a clean read. 

Favorite Quotes: I think that being brave and self-confident doesn't necessarily start inside, honey. It starts with the rest of the world, and it leads back to you.

Sometimes, we need to have the patience to give something the little nudge it needs.

Everyone looks goofy dancing.

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