A Heartwarming Read, But Lacking the Magic // REVIEW: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Title: The Rest of the Story
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Blurb Description: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah Dessen comes a big-hearted, sweeping novel about a girl who reconnects with a part of her family she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl—and falls in love, all over the course of a magical summer. 
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?
I’ve been reading Sarah Dessen since I was twelve years old and, till date, I find something so understated with her writing that I can’t help but falling in love every time. Of course, there are some books I enjoy more than the others, but they are all great reads nonetheless.

I wasn’t sure if I should read The Rest of the Story – I haven’t enjoyed her last few books (Once and for All and Saint Anything) as much as I enjoyed the masterpieces that were Just Listen, The Truth About Forever and This Lullabybut when a trusted book fairy recommended it, and said that she loved it JUST as much as my top three, I knew I had to give this one a chance.

The Rest of the Story reminded me of the Sarah Dessen of Old (a little bit of Along for the Ride and a tiny sprinkle of The Truth About Forever) and while I REALLY ENJOYED reading it, I just can’t classify it in the magical range that I would for my top three.

THINGS I LIKED:

1.       EMMA/ SAYLOR AND THE FAMILY: This really reminded me of The Truth About Forever and the whole family. I loved Emma’s mom’s extended lake family, the familiarity and even the friction between them.
2.       THE ROMANCE WAS ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE, OKAY?
3.       I think Emma/ Saylor’s stepmom was one of the coolest characters in the book. I LOVE that she was supportive of Emma/ Saylor, stepped back when she didn’t need to be the parent in charge and encouraged Emma’s dad to be better.

THINGS I WISH HAD BEEN BETTER:
1.       I feel like Emma’s mom’s mental health wasn’t dealt with properly. I can’t pinpoint what exactly, but the rep just felt lacking overall.
2.       I WASN’T FULLY FEELING THE MAGIC (AND I REALLY REALLY WANTED TO)


My Verdict: The Rest of the Story is a one-time read, that ALMOST reached the standard of my favourite Sarah Dessen books, but then, lacked the magic at the end.
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. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.

What is your favourite Sarah Dessen book? Have you read The Rest of the Story?