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In the beginning of the book, Bella is very upset because it is her birthday and it will make her older than the "permanently" 17 year old Edward. Much to her dismay, the Cullen family throws her a birthday party. She, then, receives a present from Alice and Edward, CD with Bella's lullaby on it. At the birthday party, Bella gets a paper cut when opening a present and then Jasper attacks her which then leads to her being accidentally smashed into a mess of glass that cuts deeply into her arm, Carlisle gives her stitches. Jasper does not harm Bella, as the rest of the Cullens hold him back. This reminds Edward of the danger he puts Bella in because of their relationship. Edward leaves the small town of Forks, attempting to keep Bella safe from a world of vampires. He does this by telling Bella he no longer loves her. As soon as he leaves, Bella enters a deep depression, becoming a zombie with no friends and no life. When her father threatens to send her to live with her mother, she seeks comfort with Jacob Black, an old family friend who clears the haze of Bella's pain.

Bella soon finds out that Jacob is a werewolf, a secret that had always been in his family's genetics but reveals itself only when vampires, the werewolves' natural enemies, are around. It is a secret he is forced to keep from Bella at first, but he eventually finds a way around it, making Bella guess what he is. As soon as Bella figures it out, Jacob reveals as much as he can without betraying his clan. Bella and Jacob begin to spend more and more time together.

Bella soon discovers that rushes of adrenaline in her system yield hallucinations of Edward's voice. Desperate to hear him, she purposely places herself in dangerous situations. She rides a motorcycle and even approaches strange men in Port Angeles. She wants to try cliff-jumping, a recreational activity, participated in by Jacob's friends, but Jacob tells her it is not safe by herself and cannot find time to take her, since he and the other werewolves are busy protecting the town against Victoria. However, Bella grows tired of waiting for Jacob. She jumps and gets caught in a riptide in the water. After a few minutes, Jacob rescues her and brings her to safety. When they return to Jacob's house, they learn that Charlie's friend, Harry Clearwater, has passed away because of a heart attack.

At the same time, Alice Cullen, Edward's vampire "sister" who has visions of the future, has a vision of Bella jumping. However, werewolves are invisible to her foresight, and she does not see Jacob rescuing Bella. Presuming Bella is dead, Alice rushes to Forks to check on Charlie, Bella's father, after his daughter's supposed death. When Alice gets there, she finds Bella is alive and well. But Rosalie, not knowing the truth, called Edward to tell him that Bella is dead. Edward wants to see if it is actually true by calling Bella's home. When, Edward calls, Jacob picks it up and informs Edward, who is impersonating Carlisle Cullen, that Charlie is at the funeral, referring to Harry, but Edward draws the conclusion that it is Bella's funeral. Having lost the will to exist as immortal, Edward flees to Italy to see the Volturi, peace-keeping vampires who would be able to kill Edward, thus granting him leave of a world without Bella.

Bella and Alice finally figure everything out and rush to Italy to stop Edward and Jacob goes along only on Bella’s behalf. Bella stops Edward from stepping into the sunlight, an act that would have revealed the existence of vampires and invoked the wrath of the Volturi. Instead, all three of them are brought before the Volturi for judgement. Aro, the most exuberant of the Volturi, was very curious about Bella and her power to block Edward's mind reading. So he set up tests for her, and finds out that neither he nor Jane can affect her. Aro is very excited about this and asks if she wants to join the Volturi when she is a vampire, but she refuses. There’s a brawl and Jacob meets Aro’s daughter Alishiah, Alice’s twin sister who was adopted by Aro when the two sisters were separted at birth. The Volturi say that Bella must be killed because she knows too much about vampires and could be a threat to their secrecy. The five are free to leave on one condition: Bella must be turned into a vampire, and soon.

When they all return to Forks, Bella wakes up to see Edward and believes she had drowned or is dreaming and starts going into hysterics. Edward tells her what he was doing before he heard about her dying, but she still believes that he is a dream. He finally manages to make her believe he is real by kissing her. He also explains that he will never leave her again. She is happy to have him back, but he upsets her when he says that he won't damn her soul by turning her into a vampire. She then tells him that she is going to ask his family to vote on the matter. Everybody says yes to her being a vampire except Edward and Rosalie (who then says, "Let me explain, I don't mean that I have any aversion to you as a sister. It's just that...this is not the life I would have chosen for myself. I wish there had been someone there to vote no for me."). Edward takes Bella home, and tells Bella that he will turn her himself if she will marry him first.

The book ends with Bella being grounded for leaving Forks without permission. Because she hadn't gone to La Push in a while, Jacob thinks that Edward was keeping Bella away, so he drops off the motorcycles at her house, which makes Charlie furious. When Bella and Edward come back and find this out, Jacob confronts them and says he’s kool because he has a new friend. The story ends with Jacob and the pack meeting Alice’s twin and couping with all that is about to transpire.

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