Monday, November 22, 2010

Here-There-And-Everywhere Plotline Gives Me Trouble

(Image from Indiebound)

Once upon a time, 13-year-old Dellie belonged to a normal, happy family. But that was before the car accident that killed her little brother, Louis. Dellie's mom hasn't smiled since. She hides in her room, sleeping away her grief, while Dellie's father watches, helpless. As much as Dellie wants to run outside, flee the sorrow that permeates their apartment, she can't. Her mother's too paranoid to let her go anywhere other than school. Although Dellie craves freedom more than anything else, she knows deep down that she deserves the punishment; after all, it's her fault Louis is dead.

Things start to change when a hungry 5-year-old boy shows up at Dellie's door. She's seen Corey around enough to know his story - the kid lives with his deadbeat mother who often leaves him home alone while she goes out with different boyfriends. When she is at home, everyone can hear her yelling at the boy and the bruises she leaves all over his body are difficult for anyone to miss. Although she knows she shouldn't get involved, Dellie can't ignore the needy child who reminds her so much of her brother. She failed Louis, but she vows not to let Corey down.

The more Dellie gets involved, the riskier the situation becomes. She's seen Corey's mom in a temper before and it's not a pretty sight. Still, she has to do something. In the meantime, she has to deal with her best friend, who's suddenly not speaking to her, and Michael, who, surprisingly enough, is. She's been crushing on him forever and now he wants to hang out, something Dellie's mother will never approve of. How can Dellie convince her parents to give her the freedom she needs to grow up? How can she help Corey when she couldn't help Louis? How can she do what she knows is right when the thought of stepping up gives her panic attacks? Most importantly, will life ever be normal and happy again?

The Trouble with Half A Moon (available January 2011), a debut novel by Danette Vigilante, is a poignant story about grief, compassion and courage. With its inner-city, housing project setting, it's no surprise that the book touches on disturbing subjects like domestic violence, depression, poverty, and addiction. Still, it's a hopeful tale that promises redemption through kindness, understanding and faith. While this sometimes gritty tale carries an important message, the story suffers from choppy writing, a here-there-and-everywhere plotline, and characters who don't get the development they deserve. Vigilante's trying to cover so much territory that the book lacks the focus necessary to make it truly effective. A little streamlining would have made a huge difference here. As is, the book makes for a very disappointing read. Unless Vigilante's skills improve big time by her next book, I won't be reading her again.

(Readalikes: Reminded me a little of Bang! by Sharon Flake)

Grade: C-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for mature subject matter (although it has no profanity or sex)

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of The Trouble With Half A Moon from the generous folks at Putnam.

2 comments:

  1. Mmm, I can't make my mind up whether I'd like that storyline or not. Thanks for a great review though.

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  2. Oh, wow! Sorry it didn't work for you! Amazing how books can strike people so differently. I just loved this one. Interesting reading your take on it, though!

    http://back-to-books.blogspot.com/2010/11/230-trouble-with-half-moon-by-danette.html

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