The Rest of the Story
“Dessen gets it right yet again with her trademark lovable and interesting characters. The lake and the people who live there feel real and unique, while Dessen’s storytelling wraps the whole package in warmth and compassion.”
Emma has always belonged in one world, the one where her mom and dad split when her mom’s addictions became too great and ended her life. Raised by her father, Emma is now a teenager, and her dad is getting remarried. While he and his new bride—a woman Emma likes very much—head off on their honeymoon, Emma is supposed to stay with her best friend. But when her friend’s grandfather is rushed to the hospital, Emma ends up returning to her mother’s home town, which Emma last visited as a small girl. She’s going to stay with the grandmother and cousins she didn’t remember she had. Her dad isn’t so sure. . . .
“Be honest: You okay with this arrangement? It’s not too late to change your mind.”
“I’m fine,” I said, although now that his time left here was dwindling, I was feeling a slow simmer of anxiety I could only hope wouldn’t reach full boil. Did I want to change my mind? The panic, now hitting medium high, said yes.
Emma does stay, and finds a lot of surprises, including the fact that everyone calls her Saylor, her middle name, the name they say her mother called her. Emma slowly learns about the history her father never wants to talk about. She gets to know the friends she had when she was small, including Roo, the friendly, gap-toothed boy who makes her heart pound. She also sees the difference between the two sides of the lake: North Lake, where her newfound family owns a motel, and Lake North, the upper-class yacht club where her father worked when he was young.
Emma isn’t sure where she belongs, and that feeling heightens when her dad comes home and wants to move Emma to stay with him and her new stepmom in the Lake North hotel for the remainder of vacation. Her young cousin Gordon doesn’t want her to go.
“Hey,” I said, reaching out for her, but she quickly moved, out of reach. “You’ll still see me. I’m only going to Lake North.”
“That’s the whole other side,” she said, and sniffled.
“It’s not that far.”
“It’s not here.”
She was right about that.
Emma’s time at the lake is drawing to a close, and she wonders: Who is she now? Is she still Emma? Or is she more Saylor? Can she be both, even when she moves back home?
Dessen gets it right yet again with her trademark lovable and interesting characters. The lake and the people who live there feel real and unique, while Dessen’s storytelling wraps the whole package in warmth and compassion. If you are a long-time fan of Dessen, you have an expected treat. If you are new to her books, you will find this simply the most recent of a long line of heartfelt books.