A Reading In Progress: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

August 11, 2013

I picked up "The Moon and More" back in May or June when I visited a small local bookshop. It was just out, in hardback, and twenty dollars (more than I usually try to spend on one book, I try to keep my hardbacks around $16 at the most). I knew I shouldn't buy it because a.) it was expensive, and b.) I already had a sizable stack of unfinished books on my shelf for the summer. However, I had just finished "Along For the Ride" and just started "What Happened to Goodbye" both by Sarah Dessen and both perfect summer reads that had quickly turned Dessen into one of my favorite authors. I picked up the book and turned it over in my hands, and read the inside flap. The first word on the dust jacket was the name "Luke" and it felt like a sign to me. If you've read some of my other posts, you don't have to look very far to see that over this summer I have become a self proclaimed Gilmore Girls fanatic, and my favorite character is (debatably) Luke Danes. This was my sign telling me to buy the book. So I took "The Moon and More" along with Lauren Graham's "Someday, Someday Maybe" (also in hardback, I have a self-control issue, and after the purchase also a money problem) up to the counter, bought them and took them home. I started SSM that night and finished it in six hours (it was good, and a review will show up for that book eventually on this blog). This book, however, got pushed aside, just for the fact that I had other books to read, and I kept getting more (like I said, I have a self-control issue and the library and half-price books are so tempting, and my father is an enabler to my book problem).

Skip ahead to August, and I'm just finally starting this book (and I still have a towering stack of unfinished books on my shelf). Right now, I'm on page 68. Normally I would wait until I finish the book to write a review or any sort of blurb about the book, but this time I just can't help myself.

As I said, I picked up and purchased the book because one of the character's names was Luke and I love Luke Danes (and because I like Sarah Dessen, but that wasn't the motivator behind the purchase this time). I thought that was where the Gilmore Girls-esque references would stop, so I was sure in for a surprise when I started reading.

Some of the so-called "references" may be a stretch; they're different enough that Amy Sherman-Palladino won't be calling up Sarah Dessen to tell her she's being sued for copyright infringement but this book lover/Gilmore Girls fan can't help but see some similarities.

Let's start with the main character, Emaline. She's eighteen and it's her last summer at home before starting college. She has a nice family, a good boyfriend, and a job at the family reality company. On the surface there are no parallels but when you add in some specifics, that changes. The facts about "The Moon and More" will be colored in blue, while the facts about Gilmore Girls will be colored in pink. See if you can find similarities, and remember, these are things that appear less than half-way through the book!

Emaline's mother, Emily, was a teenage mother. She had Emaline when she was eighteen.
Rory's mother, Lorelai, was a teenage mother. She had Rory when she was sixteen.

Emaline's father has been absentee most of her life. They correspond through e-mail and see each other once a year. He has a new family, a wife and a toddler son.
Rory's father has been absentee most of her life. Rory sees Christopher sporadically at best. He shows up once in Season 1 to visit the girls, ends up sleeping with Lorelai. He shows up again in Season 2 to escort Rory at her Debutante Ball, and then shows up again later in Season 2 with a new girlfriend. He shows up for a third time in Season 2 because he's broken up with the girlfriend (or wants to break up with the girlfriend), starts things up with Lorelai again only to find out Sherry (the girlfriend) is pregnant and he goes running back to her to have a "real" family. Chris shows up a few more times in the series to make things difficult and successfully breaks up Luke and Lorelai not once, but twice. When Chris shows up in the show, it's never really to see Rory, there's always some sort of back story with Lorelai. 

Emaline's mother is from a small town and a working class family in North Carolina. Her father is from a well-off family from New England. 
Rory's parents both come from well-off New England families but Lorelai moves Rory and herself to a small town so they will be out from under the umbrella of entitlement and Lorelai becomes a working class woman. 

Emaline's grandparents on her father's side are upset by her existence.
Rory's grandparents on her father's side are upset by her existence.

At their first meeting, Emaline's father gives her a copy of Huckleberry Finn, his favorite book.
The first time we see Christopher on the show he and Rory go to the bookstore and he tells her to pick out any book she wants and he'll get it for her. She ends up picking the Oxford English dictionary and his credit card is declined so he can't pay for the book. The second time Chris makes an appearance on the show, he brings the dictionary with him and tells Rory, "See I promised you the book, here it is".

Emily has always been wary of letting Emaline get too close to her father for fear that he will promise her things and not come through with them. However, she does not keep Emaline from her father.
Lorelai has always been wary of letting Rory get too close to her father for fear that he will promise her things and not come through with them. However she has never kept Rory from Chris, in fact, Rory is the one who tries to keep Chris away from Lorelai.

Emaline dreams of going to an Ivy League school (Columbia), she gets in but cannot afford to go because of money troubles (Her father promised to pay, but didn't come through). She then must go to a smaller state school that gave her a free ride. 
Rory dreams of going to an Ivy League school (Harvard), and gets in. However, after a visit to Yale and some persuasion from her grandparents, Rory decides not to attend Harvard, but Yale instead. Rory does not receive any financial aid due to some odd circumstances of Lorelai's finances, so Rory has no way to pay her tuition. She ends up going to her grandparents and striking a deal with them to finance her schooling. 

Emaline is dating a great guy, Luke,  that all the girls love and her Mother approves of. He chose her when they were freshmen in high school and they've been together ever since. They differ on their feelings about fooling around but they do it anyway. 
Rory's first boyfriend is Dean. Lorelai likes him (not initially but soon after). He's new to town and falls instantly for Rory. They go out and they seem to be the perfect couple that everyone envies. They break up twice and after a bunch of sticky messes get back together and hook up, repeatedly.

Emaline's Best Girl Friend is Daisy Ye (Vietnamese). She is obsessed with fashion and dresses "for the life she wants, not the life she has." She is also a virgin and plans to stay one until marriage, not because she is particularly religious, but because her parents are and it has stuck with her.
Rory's best Girl Friend is Lane Kim (Korean). She is obsessed with music and ends up playing in a punk band that goes on a small summer tour to many churches. She stays a virgin until marriage, not because she is particularly religious but because her parents are and it has stuck with her.

Daisy is dating a lovable idiot.
Lane dates (then marries) a lovable idiot.

Mrs. Ye speaks broken English with a Vietnamese accent and sometimes switches back into her native language when talking to Daisy.
Mrs. Kim speaks broken English with an accent. She switches back to Korean when she's yelling.

Emaline's mother got married to a different guy when Emaline was two. He was widowed and had two daughters. Originally he and Emily couldn't stand one another but then he helped her out of a jam once and they've been together ever since.
Lorelai never married (except to Chris near the end but I like to pretend THAT just didn't happen). She did have a pretty long relationship with Luke throughout the show. They didn't like each other at first, he thought she was annoying and she thought he was too grumpy, eventually though they became friends and then dated. Luke was married once and divorced and he has a daughter from a previous relationship. 
(This one is a stretch, but I think Luke and Lorelai ended up together after the show was over, leading to she could have married Luke and had a stepdaughter making this another similarity)

And finally some of the names are crossover names. Emily and Luke were used in both the show and the story. They are common names so I wouldn't exactly call this a blatant reference, but when you put it together with the other similarities, it sure does make you wonder.

All these references lead me to wonder if Sarah Dessen is a Gilmore Girls fan just like I am and found a way to incorporate some of the aspects of the show into a novel? By the same token, she may never have seen the show and this is all purely coincidence. You be the judge, are these blatant references or sheer happenstance?

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