between us and the moon book coverReviewed by Benish Khan

Sarah lives in the shadows of her beautiful ballerina sister, Scarlett. In her family, Sarah’s nickname is “Bean” while her sister is seen as the adventurous and popular one. Her boyfriend Tucker ends his relationship with Sarah because she doesn’t have any other interests besides science. Apparently, Sarah is now too boring for his “changing” personality. Heartbroken, Sarah is left to wonder about her self worth and confidence. But after some time, she comes up with a plan–she decides to pass herself as someone older, someone like Scarlett. She calls it “The Scarlett Experiment”.

While spending the summer in Cape Cod, Sarah takes it upon herself to dress in Scarlett’s clothes. She also meets a college guy named Andrew. Sarah believes he sees her like Scarlett–fun, outgoing and ready to have fun–and soon a romance blossoms. But Andrew believes Sarah is older – and she never corrects him – and Sarah fears that eventually he’ll find out the truth.

This YA novel is much more than a cutesy summer romance novel. It accurately portrays the feelings many teenagers will relate to–ones of wanting to grow up and be more likable.

Between Us and the Moon was definitely more character than plot driven; Rebecca Maizel spends a lot of time on describing the the characters’ personal growth and their relationships with each other. The family dynamic in this book was interesting as well. Sarah might not seem likable at first because of her repeated lies but as a reader, I could sympathize with her because she just wants to fit in with everyone else yet remain true to herself.

The ending of the book is open ended and not quite complete, leaving room for a sequel. In a way, I liked the fact that there was no “happily ever after”. The novel gives off vibes similar to Judy Blume’s Forever–a coming of age first romance with somewhat graphic details. It’s definitely a different take on the usual squeaky clean YA fiction. I do admire clean books but also find it more powerful when teenagers are aware of their sexual relationships and the choices those can lead to. I’d recommend Between Us and the Moon to fans of Sarah Dessen and Kasie West.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Benish Khan has her B.A in Psychology and Religion from the University of New York. She’s a psychologist and artist by day, and a bookworm by night. She currently blogs at feministreflections.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperTeen. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.