The Girl Who Chased the Moon
By Sarah Addison Allen
Sarah Addison Allen is an author I knew about but never read. That changed earlier this year when I finally picked up Garden Spells. Can I tell you how much I loved it? I really did. Then came The Peach Keeper which was just as wonderful, and thanks to a strange confluence of events, The Girl Who Chased the Moon landed in my lap. As with her previous books, I devoured this one completely entranced to the last page.
Emily Benedict regrets her choice to move in with the grandfather she never knew the moment she arrives at his house. Her mother’s recent death leaves her somewhat homeless and she’s in need of a parent but Mullaby, North Carolina is turning out to be a more difficult adjustment than she imaged. Her grandfather, Vance Shelby, borders on being a giant, the wallpaper in her room changes with her mood, and strange lights appear night after night behind the house making her wonder what’s really out there. Vance tells her to leave them be but it only increases her curiosity. The town is full of secrets including why her mother is detested by the people in this small town. She eventually finds out her mother, Dulcie, was ostracized for the way she treated a former boyfriend and some of that same dislike pours over to her but it still doesn’t answer all her questions.
Her neighbor, Julia Winterson, was never a friend of Dulcie’s but she befriends Emily treating her almost as a daughter. But Julia has no plans to stay in Mullaby. In town only to pay off her father’s debts after his death, she plans only on staying for two years. It’s when she gets involved with a man she fell for in high school that her plans change and her own secrets come tumbling out.
I never thought I was a fan of magical realism and truthfully on most occasions I’m not, but there’s something about the way Addison Allen integrates it into the story that it works for me. Everything about the town has a one off feeling which sets the stage so you know some odd things are going to happen. Although I will admit one thing here did make me sort fall out of the story a minute and it’s the explanation of the Mullaby lights (you have to read it, I won’t explain more because I don’t want to give too much away) but I quickly got over it and moved right along.
Doing my best not to revert to gushing over this book, I’ll say this — if you’re looking for a book to sink into, try one of Sarah Addison Allen’s. The stories are soft with a few hard edges to keep you in reality but not nearly enough to make you want to stop reading. I recommend this one.