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The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Young adult

The Rest of the Story

by Sarah Dessen

Quick take

The latest from the queen of YA romance.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_WellKnownAuthor

    Famous author

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama


Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable … until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?

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Free sample

Check out a preview of The Rest of the Story.

Why I love it

Of all the Sarah Dessen books I’ve loved and read over and over, The Rest of The Story has become my new favorite.

Emma’s summer takes an unexpected turn when she’s sent to North Lake to live with her mother’s family, whom she hasn’t seen since her mother passed away years ago. But the more time Emma spends in her mother’s community—and with Roo, the boy she’d befriended as a child—the more she learns how to cope with her anxieties, reconnect with family, and discover herself along the way.

I fell right into this book—it was love at first page. Dessen is a master at portraying family relationships, and The Rest of The Story is no exception. Emma’s relatable struggle between two identities—as her mother’s daughter and as her father’s daughter—is expertly written and full of heart. For those craving a classic Dessen blend of family bonds, strong character growth, and a sweet romance, The Rest of The Story is a heartwarming summer read at its finest.

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Member ratings (1,701)

  • Alicia W.

    Willow Spring, NC

    I have always been a fan of Sarah Dessen’s books. I didn’t think I could love a book more than Saint Anything, but I was wrong! I’m 22 and still reading her books! Couldn’t put it down! Recommend!!!

  • Alexis F.

    Geneva, IN

    I have loved Sarah Dessen’s books since I was a freshman in high school and discovered her. Now 26 her books still take you on a journey of what it’s like to be a teen going through life. Loved this!

  • Katelyn S.

    Chicago, IL

    I’m a sucker for love stories and this one was no different. This book kept me on my toes and wanting more. I couldn’t put the book down and was sad when I got to the end. Would defintely recommend!

  • Conner W.

    Cartersville, GA

    Sarah Dessen has been my favorite author since I happened upon her books in high school. This coming of age story set in a Gatsby-esque lake town fills a gap in my heart I didn’t know was there. Loved

  • Addie D.

    Waterbury, CT

    Forever a Dessen fan since HS. This did not disappoint. Saylor unearths her mom’s past & finds her own parallels with her mom while still creating her own story. Loved the lake setting(lake girl here)