A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Rest of the Story is a thoughtful coming-of-ager by YA veteran Sarah Dessen about a teen girl who discovers family secrets while spending the summer in a lake resort town with her maternal grandmother and a side of the family she never knew. Main character Saylor's mother died a few years before of a heroin overdose after struggling with addiction to painkillers and alcohol. Saylor drinks to excess once; there are appropriate consequences. A few kisses are described briefly, but otherwise there's just some talk about romantic feelings and some dating and hand-holding. An absent friend tells Saylor via text that she's in a same-sex relationship; Saylor is supportive and happy for her friend. Saylor matures and learns she's capable of more than she thought by connecting her mother's past to her own life and future. There's some strong language, including "f--k" and "s--t."
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What's the story?
Emma Saylor learns THE REST OF THE STORY when she unexpectedly has to spend the summer in a small lake resort town with a side of the family she barely knew existed. Because her mother had painful memories growing up in that town, they never visited, and her mom only ever told her vague stories about the place until she died tragically when Emma was still a kid. Her newly remarried father has plenty of memories of the place where he met Emma's mom, too -- memories he'd like to protect Emma from. As Emma uncovers events from the past, she fills in a lot of the blanks in her own story. And she may just learn how to start filling in the rest of her story, too.
Is it any good?
Once again veteran author Sarah Dessen has created a character teens will relate to, colorful supporting characters, and a vivid sense of place. Teens will relate to Emma Saylor's longing to know more about her parents' past, especially since her mother died, and her struggles to reconcile how the two sides of her family have made her who she is. She's not even sure if she wants to be called Emma like her dad does, or Saylor like her mom did.
The story moves along at a good pace and in a straightforward manner. It's a little disorienting at first, but then Emma's pretty disoriented herself by the unexpected change in her summer plans. But strong family bonds and a place she feels she belongs see Emma through, and show her she's capable of more than she thought. Teen drinking, her mother's struggles with addiction, and some strong language make it best for teens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Rest of the Story depicts teen alcohol use. Is it realistic? Is it glamorized? Is teen drinking a big deal? Why, or why not?
Have you read any of Sarah Dessen's other books? How does this one compare? Which is your favorite?
What are Emma Saylor's character strengths and weaknesses? What do you like about her, or what don't you like about her?
- Author: Sarah Dessen
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: June 4, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 26, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love coming-of-age stories
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