August 3, 2015

Book Review: Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

Between Us and the Moon
Rating: /5

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To be able to write this crappy review, I had to read this book twice. After the first time, I really had no idea what to say about it. It’s partly because I kept putting it down (wrong timing) and partly because I had a hard time building chemistry with this book. Usually, I am quick to enjoy contemporary books. So, it kind of confused me that I didn’t enjoy this on the first read. That’s why I went out with the second attempt of reading it yesterday.

Sarah was happy enough with how her life goes on. In fact, she loved how her life goes on. Until the very person she enjoyed to share her love of stars, comets, and telescope with pointed out just how ‘boring’ her way of life was. Well, that’s not the exact word but when someone said that ‘you watch the world’ instead of saying something like, say, ‘you are the world’, what more could you expect for them to actually mean about it? 

That’s why this summer Sarah decided things would be different. Should be different, actually. Sarah began to realize that maybe the way she spent the past 16 years of her life was really boring. How she always seemed to bury her face on telescope and computer, how she always seemed dull beside her blindingly gorgeous sister, and not to forget how limited her circle of people that she could call as ‘friends’ ―it’s just two persons, her included. She wondered if maybe there’s something wrong with her, then she should fix it this summer. Being a science-geek, there’s only one way to do it right: to conduct an experiment!

‘Why can’t I use what I know about science and Scarlett to change my life?’

(Chapter VI, Between Us and the Moon)

The title was ‘Scarlett Experiment’. The idea was to behave like her sister, Scarlett, who never has a problem in being a spotlight everywhere she goes, and wear clothes like hers, too for the entire summer. If she did it well, then she might get a little taste of being an easy-to-love girl. Turned out the experiment was more than just success. Not only Sarah got a lot of heads turning to her direction, she also got full attention from Andrew, the hottest guy she’d ever known in her life. Andrew seemed to like her a lot, well, part of her. Because even though he looked like enjoying a company of the ungraceful, science-centric girl, it’s still Scarlett’s wear and Scarlett’s copy-habit that drew him in on the first place. Also, Sarah might tell a lie or two to get Andrew right where she wanted to. 

When everything finally shifted to a better place, then the rest should be all smooth, right?

Except Sarah forgot that when she lied for yesterday, she tended to have to lie for today, for tomorrow, and even she might have to lie for the rest of her life. What she had with Andrew wasn’t really all based on lies, but even a little lie could damage the whole bond because it meant distrust between both parties. What began with small innocent try to find a way to get one’s self ‘accepted’, ended up potentially jeopardize the one person she cared the most. Sarah then realized that ‘Scarlett Experiment’ was not the way for her to get accepted by others; it’s the way for her to accept her own self.

Between Us and the Moon deals with common teen’s issue of discovering one’s self through some journey filled with myriad of emotional moments and ended up with realization and introspection. Sarah is a smart girl who uses telescope and tracks comet like she’s been doing them all her life. But when it comes to socializing, she’s not that bright. Her adopting her sister’s head-to-toe appearance and daily habits is quite understandable as she’s been living in the shadow of Scarlett for years, invisible and forgotten. Personally, I like to think that there’s another thing that set her off, too. Her frustration of wanting to ‘change’ is also a pent-up frustration of different treatment her parents give to her. Being a good girl, it’s Sarah that often gets less attention because their parents are too busy dealing with Scarlett’s bad behavior. There’s a scene that makes me feel bad for her because when most kids want their parents to ignore them, here Sarah wants them so badly to notice her doing something bad for the first time in her life.

‘I don’t want to look at Mom because I don’t want to see her not looking at me.’

(Chapter XIV, Between Us and the Moon)
The thing with parents is sometimes they think giving more attention for the troubled kids and giving less for the good ones are good things to do when actually both types need equal amount of attention and affection.
Sarah’s character portrayed the situation of a lot of teenagers who deals with the same issue in real life very well. Pretending to be someone she’s not, Sarah thinks it’s a good way to be what she wants: a girl who’s loved by everyone. But life gives her a lesson that nothing good will come from telling lies ―whatever innocent reason behind it. I like that this book presents fitting consequence for such behavior. Sarah received the result of her lies, and the experience taught her a lot to think about. I like how she dealt with it in the end. I see that Sarah has grown more mature throughout the story.
I like Andrew because unlike what Sarah thinks, I know that it’s not her (borrowed) sexy wear that hooked him up at first. Things are bad enough for him in the past and meeting Sarah makes him understand clearly the meaning of ‘stop blaming yourself and move on’. So when he found out that she lied to him, it’s only fair for him to go act like that.
Ms. Maizel creates each character in this book with balanced amount of good and bad side on them. I like that some characters that so unlikeable in the beginning, turns out to be the one who gives the best advice. The theme, the plot, and the characteristic of main characters are actually quite cliché, also the twists are predictable enough but I found myself rooting for the lessons implied in this book.
The epilogue wrapped up the story very well. It’s not really an HEA but it’s not a bad ending either. Actually it’s the part that made me want to give this book a solid 4 points.
Well, guess now I’m glad I decided to re-read this book so I could share with you this full-of-lessons read :)
Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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