Book Review: The Rest of the Story

Book Review: The Rest of the Story

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen is a book that I had been eagerly anticipating as I am a big fan of her realistic contemporaries. This one has an interesting setting as well as a realistic main character, albeit the plot is quite slow paced. Even so, I really enjoyed this one, and it is classic Sarah Dessen.

Book Review: The Rest of the StoryTitle: The Rest of the Story
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: June 4, 2019

four-stars
Summary (from Goodreads):

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?

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Book Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

This book tells the story of a girl who finds herself in her mother’s hometown for the summer. The town is divided in two: North Lake and the upper-class Lake North, and Emma belongs to both. During her stay, she is reunited with old friends but is torn between the identity of Saylor, the name her mom used to call her, or Emma, her newer self. I enjoyed the setting in the book as the idea of the town being divided creates contrast. As well, Dessen’s classic themes of identity and family are present, and it is interesting how Emma learns more about both herself and her mother while staying in North Lake. My only issue with the plot is that it feels a bit slow paced and drawn-out, and I don’t think the book needed to be as long as it is (440 pages!).

❀ Realistic Main Character

Emma is a realistic main character, and she deals with a lot during her summer. On top of her coping with anxiety and the loss of her mother, she struggles to figure out who she really is. I found Emma to be respectable as she offers to help out at the resort instead of enjoying the relaxing vacation everyone was told to provide her with, and she has a real desire to learn her family’s history. This curiosity and willingness to learn about the past create an interesting character to take the reader around North Lake. Throughout the story, Emma truly transforms and starts to piece together her real self, and by the end of the book, she feels like a well-developed character who I could easily imagine.

❀ Classic Dessen

The Rest of the Story is a contemporary about identity and family. I loved the divided lake setting as well as the believable main character. As far as Sarah Dessen’s books go, this one is up there with my favourites.

About Sarah Dessen

Image of Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association.  Sarah lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine.

21 thoughts on “Book Review: The Rest of the Story

  1. Holly says:

    So glad to hear that you enjoyed this one! I’m really excited to read it, particularly because it has a lake setting–love a good lake <3

  2. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    The only book I’ve ever read of Dessen’s was The Truth About Forever and I never finished it… Not sure why, because it was pretty cute and filled with drama in all the right places, but yeah. I can definitely see how this author would have a very particular style that you’d be able to recognise anywhere. I felt it in that one book!
    Amazing review, and so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
    Sophie @ Blame Chocolate recently posted…Theme Thursday: Virtual Reality

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