by Wendy Mass
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Two caveats to this post. 1) I am a huge Wendy Mass fan. 2) I “read” this book on Playaway from the library, which means it’s a little hard to tell when it’s going to end. Often I think I’ve been listening to a book forever and since there are no discs to change, it sometimes seems that it’s going on forever. However, this one ended just when I thought it should.
I loved the diversity of characters in this story, and yet they came together in a believable way. It reminds me a bit of the Beacon Street Girls in diversity, only better because of their realness. The story focuses mostly on two families: Kenny and Ally, whose parents own the Moonshadow campground and have been homeschooled in an extremely rural location their whole lives; and Bree and Melanie, whose parents are taking over the Moonshadow. Kenny, Ally, Melanie, and Ally’s friend Ryan are big into science in general and astronomy in particular; Melanie is instrumental in helping Kenny and Ally understand what they will need to know to adapt to life in a school. Ryan is also growing up and in some ways away from Ally, being more interested in his self-image, and therefore makes a connection with Bree.
Ah, Bree. She is gorgeous, obsessed with the idea of becoming a model and absolutely refuses to believe that her parents are moving her to hicksville in her “prime modeling years.” She eventually comes around, but not totally and not quite in the way you’d expect. I most liked her evolution as a character, even if she was my least favorite character to start with.
There was one last character who seemed a bit peripheral. Jack failed science and instead of taking summer school, his teacher offers him a chance to go with a tour he’s leading to watch the eclipse at the Moonshadow. Jack is overweight and initially dismissed by Bree. He is also good at art, has no friends at school, good at lucid dreaming, and thinks Ally is beautiful. There is even a cute bit where Ryan points to Ally and Bree from afar and says one is beautiful and Jack assumes he means Ally.
There is one “sleepover” moment where all six kids are holed up together during a thunderstorm. It’s not when they become friends, but it is a defining moment in their time together. I liked how natural their characters and evolution seemed, and I loved the parts about astronomy. I was a little bit disappointed that two of the characters didn’t brave a kiss at the end, but it did seem appropriate to their characters, and to the audience of the book, that they didn’t.
I think my next Wendy Mass book will be A Mango-Shaped Space. Other recommendations are welcome too!