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Keeping the Moon,' by Sarah Dessen, is an entertaining yet touching portrait of a summer in the south. Colie's mother is the one and only Kiki Sparks, workout diva extraordinaire. However, Colie and her mom weren't always thin and wealthy. Part of Kiki's inspirational story involves her and her daughter's 'Fat Years,' so even though Colie is 45.5 pounds lighter, she's still lugging around a lot of emotional baggage from a childhood of ridicule and teenage years of a reputation she doesn't deserve. Because of all this, when Colie arrives in the small town of Colby, N.C. to spend the summer with her eccentric and overweight aunt Mira while her mother tours Europe, she's got black hair, a lip ring and an attitude. Then she meets Morgan and Isabel, two polar-opposite best friends that run the Last Chance Diner. Somehow, Colie ends up with a job there and learns for the first time what it's like to have friends. With Isabel's help and guidance, Colie learns to let go of the past and embrace the future, as well as the possibility that cute hippie Norman might be interested in more than just getting in her pants.
In her novels, Dessen goes down the list of teenage issues, treating each in its turn. Her writing is always remarkably insightful for an author who is no longer a teen herself. Every teenager has had a run-in with at least one of the issues explored in 'Keeping the Moon' ? slanderous rumors, weight problems, the joys and woes of friendship, low self-esteem, and bullies ? and can find some aspect with which to relate and from which to learn. Dessen's writing is empowering and touching and her characters are realistic. Readers will find themselves wishing for a friend like Isabel and an aunt like Mira. The various quirks of the small town inhabitants add humor and color to the intense plot. Rather than glossing over difficult topics, Dessen faces them head-on with class and tact, always leaving a lesson learned in her wake.