Wednesday 27 April 2011
Review:- The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Sarah Addison Allen is my favourite author of 2011 so far. It seems to be a feature that I discover a new author whose every word I absolutely must devour, approximately once a year. The last one was Scarlett Thomas, the one before, Jodi Picoult. Both hard acts to follow. Garden Spells was the first of her novels that I read, and I fell in love with both it, and The Sugar Queen. The combination of basic, everyday stories, infused with totally magical elements, and my favourite of all favourite non-bookish things, food, was just amazing for me. One of my favourite things about the library is picking up a book purely on spec (in the case of Garden Spells, because the pretty cover caught my eye) and discovering a new author to love.
I was given The Girl Who Chased the Moon as an RAK by Erika, and immediately fell in love with the cover. My copy is the copy in the picture, midnight blue and silver, and prompted me to make the (stupid, I know) statement that 'all books should be blue!'. I really do think that blue is hugely under-represented in the world of book covers, though. I'm thinking about staging a protest...
The story is set in North Carolina, an area which, being a Londoner, I know little to nothing about, but from reading Addison Allen's books, I get a probably misled impression of it being continuously bathed in late summer evening sunlight, the balmy air filled with magic.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon is about Emily Benedict, who comes to live in Mullaby with the grandfather she didn't know she had, following the death of her mother, Dulcie. Once there, she realises that her mother kept a lot of secrets, and that the Dulcie Shelby the people of Mullaby remember is not the mother she knew at all. When she starts to see a local phenomena known as the Mullaby lights, she becomes more and more curious about the town, her mother's past, and the mysterious Coffey family, who never come out after dark. Helped by Julia from next door, who bakes amazing cakes, hoping to rediscover what she has lost, and the enigmatic Win Coffey, to whom she feels inexplicably drawn, Emily begins to make sense of the past and her own place in Mullaby.
Aside from the cakes, the thing I loved most about this book was the authenticity of its' characters. Addison Allen's characters are never perfect, and in each of them, I have found some part of myself. This time, it was Julia's character which made an impression on me. Being the weird kid who was marginalised in high school and was convinced they were hopelessly in love with someone who turned out (at least at age sixteen) not to be anything like as amazing as you thought, and who broke your heart? That was me. Basically, her books make me want to believe in magic, and especially the magic created by friendship, community, love, and a sense of really belonging somewhere.
I finished the book in a day, and I really really wanted it to last longer!
I read this book as part of the Once Upon a Time Challenge!