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3 thoughtful summer reads for teens

When fat novels with beachy covers rule bookstore shelves, you know it's summer. But must we sacrifice strong plots for frothier characters and sunnier settings just because we're sitting poolside? Books meant to be read under a shady tree can be page turners, too. Here are three for teens that fit the bill. 

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1. 'The Moon and More,' by Sarah Dessen

No matter the season, a new teen novel from Sarah Dessen is cause for fan jubilation. In The Moon and More, the author returns to the southern beach town of Colby to tell the story from a native's point of view. When narrator Emaline, whose family owns a beach rental business, breaks up with the boy she's known and liked/loved forever, what does she do? She jumps right into a relationship with a summer visitor who seems nice enough – interesting, even. Turns out, he's neither. Teens will totally get Emaline's dilemma: "It seemed like things either stayed just the same or changed irrevocably. And like most times I found myself with hard choices, I just wished there was something clear and easy, right in between."

As usual, Dessen's characters are delightful. I was especially drawn to Morris, Emaline's best friend's boyfriend. What an interesting personality, hidden beneath a the facade of a slow starter. Kind of a bumbling ne'er-do-well at first, his transformation was perfect. He's the kind of character to give a fun summer read just the right amount of food for thought.

So for those three female teen readers on the planet who don't already love Sarah Dessen's books: grab this one. It's a perfectly relaxing book set in a sleepy Southern beach town. Delightful, skillfully told with minimal sex, violence, language – all age-appropriate. I give "The Moon and More" a very large thumbs up.

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