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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 240 pages 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (May 3, 2011)

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

Love, loss and acceptance. These three words immediately come to mind when I reflect back on Jessi Kirbi’s heartfelt debut, Moonglass. At the heart of the story is Anna, a young girl trying to overcome the  overwhelming ache of her mother’s untimely death. Anna blames herself  for what happened to her mother- and it really was a terrible thing. The way her mother died was an evocative image that unsettled me—a woman walking into the sea, determined to never walk out. One thing I have to mention (and maybe it's just me), but initially I suspected there was going to be something evolving in the mermaid department. Turned out I was wrong; it was more of a metaphor  illustrating  the book’s message. But I have to admit—being a mermaid junkie, I wanted my first hunch to come true! Nevertheless, I appreciated Moonglass for being the well-written, painfully beautiful story that it was.

Centering Moonglass around a small beachfront community like the one Anna and her father moved to really added to the emotional punch of the story. It was almost as if the sea became a character all of its own. I felt drawn to it, much the same as Anna. The more I read, the more I wanted to take a trip there myself.   Kirby’s writing was so vivid, I longed to walk alongside Anna, digging my toes into the brown sugar sand as she hunted for sea glass alongside the gentle hum of the rolling surf.  While Moonglass did start off a bit slow for me and lagged occasionally in spots, I definitely enjoyed the experience. In particular, I was drawn to Anna’s strained relationship with her amiable father, as well as the supporting characters from the town. I also was interested in Anna’s relationship with Tyler, the hunky lifeguard with the chip on his shoulder. I would’ve loved to have seen that relationship develop a bit more but I realize that romance was not the crux of a story like this. The real focus was about overcoming pain and finding forgiveness. Romance just happened to be a contributing factor in Anna’s journey toward healing her broken heart.

Reminiscent of Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer, Moonglass is sure to appeal to contemporary fans who enjoy an emotional, bittersweet journey about love and forgiveness.  I will definitely be looking out for more of Jessi Kirbi’s future works!

Jessi Kirby
I grew up in Mammoth Lakes, CA where stunning scenery and a few very special teachers inspired me to write. As soon as I graduated high school, I made for the beach and eventually ended up in Orange County with a happy little family and a job as an English teacher. 

And then by luck, or coincidence, or some cosmic force, things lined up for me to take a shot at my dream. I moved to a little gem of a beach called Crystal Cove, which is the setting for MOONGLASS; I had the opportunity to go from working as a full-time English teacher to working as a part-time librarian; and...I was about to turn 30 (more on that in the FAQ section too.) Long story short: after deciding to go for it and putting in a lot of hard work, I finished MOONGLASS, which is my first novel.  Official Website


Erin said...

Great review! I'm definitely going to pick this one up. Thanks for sharing.

Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

Mundie Moms said...

Great review! I really enjoyed this book as well. Her setting is fabulous!

Christina / Book Addict said...

Great review! I cannot wait to read this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it, because I just picked this one up over the weekend.