Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Girl Who Chased the Moon (Sarah Addison Allen)

The Girl Who Chased the Moon was part of my best friend's birthday present for me. Not only does she know that I like Sarah Addison Allen, she also assumed that it had something to do with astronomy, an expectation that I had earlier shared as well. Halfway through the book, I realized that we were a bit off, but that didn't keep me from enjoying the book.

The story moves quickly, and in Ms Allen's style, is filled with elements that make it into a quirky and comfortable read. When teenage Emily Benedict's mother passes away, she is sent to live with her grandfather in Mullaby, NC. But Emily is surprised that her activist mother had another life when she was in Mullaby, and her departure from the town is shrouded by a secret that no one seems to be quite eager to tell Emily. People here look at her differently because of her mother's past. Still, Emily is not without allies. She befriends her next door neighbor Julia Winterson, who bakes with longing, and the mysterious Win Coffey.

If you are a first-time reader of the author's work, this isn't a bad place to start, although I would recommend The Sugar Queen instead. I thought that there were some parts here that felt clunky to me, like the not-quite-explained attraction between Julia and Sawyer (though the Lost fan in me irrationally rejoiced upon seeing their names together), the secret behind the Mullaby Lights, and Dulcie's part in the whole thing. I thought that there wasn't enough evidence to support these three things. But Ms Allen's are not often about rationality as they are about magic, faith, and hope. There are a lot of those magical elements in this book -- bigger, in my opinion, than the ones in Garden Spells or The Sugar Queen. And what I liked about the book were certainly more than enough to overpower those that I didn't. One of the best things about this is Emily's character and the way she approaches her unusual situation. She conducts herself with a commendable amount of dignity and bravery, and there were really moments here when she defends her mother that I think is handled with much sensitivity and insight.

Time will tell if The Girl Who Chased the Moon will become my favorite of Ms Allen's work. Despite its flaws, something in this book really resonates with me. It speaks of loss and belonging, of misplaced grievances and faith restored, and of course, family. For me, it is always a joy to read something that unabashedly appeals to that part of us that remains childlike and hopeful, especially during the holidays.

It's Christmas Eve as I write this. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Chachic said...

I love the cover for this even though it doesn't match the rest of my Sarah Addison Allen books. I didn't fall in love with The Girl Who Chased the Moon like I did with Garden Spells but I always enjoy reading her books. Have you read The Peach Keeper?

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Chris! :)

dementedchris said...

Haha, we're opposites naman! I didn't particularly like Garden Spells as much as I did Sugar Queen. Haven't read The Peach Keeper; that should be next on my list! I wish all my SAA books had the same covers. :(

Chachic said...

I have hardcovers of all the SAA books except for Garden Spells! Which is funny because that's my favorite. Haha I think it's okay if we don't have the same SAA favorites just as long as we enjoy reading her books. :)

dementedchris said...

Definitely! I wish she writes more books. My bookshelf will always have room for her writing.

Portugal said...

I don't think any of her books will change your life, but they're all great reads. I read this one first, loved it, and bought the other three. I still can't tell if Garden Spells or Moon is my favorite, because i loved both so much.