My favorite book by Sarah Dessen is Keeping the Moon (1999). Nicole Sparks used to be friendless and overweight. But even after her weight loss, mostly brought about by her mother’s recent success as a famous fitness instructor, Colie’s still friendless, and bullied at school by false, vicious rumors. When her mother leaves to promote her fitness brand on a European tour, Colie is dismayed to be sent to the beach of Colby, North Carolina to stay with her eccentric aunt Mira for the summer.
On her first night in Colby, Colie meets Norman, the artsy Deadhead who lives in her aunt’s basement; and Morgan and Isabel, the two waitresses at the Last Chance Bar and Grill. Perky, organized, brown-haired Morgan takes an instant liking to Colie, and asks her to help out at the restaurant. On the other hand, Morgan’s best friend and fellow waitress– the blonde, gorgeous and moody Isabel– makes no effort to disguise her disdain for Colie. But Colie joins the staff at the Last Chance– where Norman also happens to work – and eventually forges an unlikely bond with all three of them: Norman, Morgan, and even Isabel.
The raw and beautiful friendship between Morgan and Isabel steals the show, weaving its own fleshed-out story behind Colie, and making the reader yearn for a friendship like theirs. As such, Keeping the Moon is the definition of chick lit, a “girl book” through and through. And I mean that as high praise! Dessen has won me over again (she had me at What Happened to Goodbye) in her perfect, all-American coming-of-age narrative. I absolutely adored this book from start to finish and will be recommending it to all of my girlfriends.