Book Review: A Nearer Moon

A Nearer Moon
By Melanie Crowder

My Edition:
Paperback, 150 pages
2015, Atheneum
ISBN: 9781481441490

Luna and Willow have grown up in a small town raised on stilts over a poisoned swamp. They’ve heard stories about a time before the damn stilled the river and created the swamp, a time when fairies still roamed the earth. The older generations speak openly of a curse that fell upon the lake and causes a deadly wasting sickness to any who ingest its waters. Luna doesn’t believe in fairies or curses, but she knows to stay away from the still waters on the far side of the swamp. But when Willow ingests some of the water on accident while boating with Luna and falls ill with the wasting sickness, Luna will do anything to save her little sister.

At only 150 pages, this book delivered a touching story about sisterhood, grief and personal belief. This story is a prime example of what I look for and love in middle-grade books. What appears to be a simple story on the surface (pun possibly intended) soon reveals unexpected character depth and a timeline of events that kept the story feeling fresh.

It is a challenge to describe such a short book without giving away the plot. I can say, without revealing too much, that Crowder did an excellent job with the world building. While sparse, the details were key and gave me a strong mental image of the world she crafted.

Luna drives the story and though I didn’t get a solid idea of who little Willow is (aside from being bright and bubbly), Luna’s perspective provided a heartbreaking look at how it felt to have her sister’s life on the line. At such a young age, Luna deals with layers of guilt, because she feels responsible for what happened to her sister and that is compounded when their mother withdraws to the chapel and isolates Luna with her grief.

While Willow drifts away, Luna’s mother finds solace in prayer, while her grandmother watches the moon and stars and speaks of curses from her childhood. Luna scoffs at both practices, preferring to take action, even if useless, to try to cure what ails her sister. However, through the course of the book she comes to understand both perspectives and Crowder manages this without choosing sides or sounding preachy.

There’s a second storyline that runs parallel to Luna and Willow’s, but rather than say anything about it, I’ll just say I felt it strengthened the themes of family and grief.

I recommend this book to readers young and old, lovers of fairies and fans of heartwarming tales.

You can visit Crowder’s website.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: A Nearer Moon

    • Haha thank you. Why wait? Start building her library now! Lol then just read everything before hand to “be sure it’s suitable” or hang that and just read them anyway. Lol. I don’t have kids and a good portion of our library is middle grade. The hubs likes them too.

      • Screening… That could work 😂

        I read a lot of middle grade books that generally appeal more to boys as I have a 10yo son. I actually just agreed to review a middle grade book because I thought it would be a great thing for him and I to do together.

      • That is a great idea. So it’ll be easy to just start reading them for girls too! At some point, you really should check out the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer. It’s one of the best middle grade series I’ve found. My husband also enjoys the Rangers Apprentice series (by….Flannagan?) and your son might if he’s into fantasy. I personally haven’t read that one yet though

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