cover image The Rest of the Story

The Rest of the Story

Sarah Dessen. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-293362-1

Dessen explores her signature themes of family and romance in this layered contemporary novel driven by anxiety-prone protagonist Emma Saylor’s curiosity about her late mother’s life. Emma’s mother, who succumbed to an overdose in 2011, left Emma and her father clinging to each other, her father deeply reluctant to discuss Emma’s mother and her family. Years later, unexpected circumstances land Emma, now 17, on the shores of the lake her mother grew up on for a several-week stay with maternal grandmother Mimi. There, she finds two communities (one working-class, one wealthy), spends time with cousins she didn’t know she had, and meets the handsome boy whose father was once her mother’s best friend—all while hearing stories, seeing photos, and discovering long-held secrets about her mother’s wild teenage years and a single, terrible loss. Dessen takes her time building Emma’s life on the lake, developing each familial relationship from the ground up, and illuminating layers of newness and personal, familial, and class conflict as Emma searches for bits of her past. A rich, patient story about a teen girl who craves family and an understanding of her roots after suffering a tragic loss. Ages 13–up. [em]Agent: Leigh Feldman, Leigh Feldman Literary. (June) [/em]