Friday, March 26, 2010

Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon

This novel chronicles the move of seventeen-year-old Emily Benedict, as she returns to her mother's hometown following her mother's death. Emily arrives with little knowledge of Mullaby, North Carolina: her mother never spoke of the town, and moved after high school, never to return. What Emily finds is quite fantastic. Her grandfather is over eight feet tall. The wallpaper in her room changes to match her mood. Mystery lights appear in the back yard, and the town's leading family is harboring a tremendous secret. More prosaically, Emily finds that her mother's reputation in Mullaby is quite different from that of the charitable, activist mother Emily knew. Emily does her best to uncover the town's mysteries, but doing so may just arouse the town's ire, and there seems to be significant opposition to her doing so. The highlight of this book is the magical twist that Allen adds to the story. The plot is, in and of itself, fairly simple, and the characters don't have tremendous depth. But Allen does do a remarkable job of weaving a bit of fantasy and magic into the story. The book certainly reminded me of Alice Hoffman's writings, though perhaps less complicated than some of Hoffman's work. Some of the characters I found to be less than believable, especially Emily, who seems remarkably free of grief and despair. Emily has just lost her mother, and has left the only home she's ever known to come live with a previously unheard-of grandfather. The Coffey family, and Mullaby more generally, seemed entirely out of time, like they couldn't exist in the present day. I would classify this book as light reading, for vacations and the like. It is a book to read because it is charming.

Sarah Addison Allen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon (Bantam, 2010) ISBN: 0553807218

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