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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Moonrise, by Carnegie Medal winner Sarah Crossan (One, The Weight of Water), is about a teen boy, Joe, trying to figure out how to best support his older brother, who's on death row. The book is written in free verse and covers the last few weeks leading up to the execution date. Alone in Texas, Joe has time to reflect on all that's happened in his young life. Issues of trust, love, and parental abandonment figure strongly into the story. Other good discussion points include the death penalty and the way poor people often are treated in the justice system. The free-verse style is an accessible way for readers to explore poetry as a means of storytelling. The book has some infrequent swearing ("s--t," "a--hole," and "crap"). A teen romance figures into the plot, but the kissing and sex are not depicted graphically. There's also some drinking and drugs, but it is more referred to than shown.
What's the story?
MOONRISE tells the story of 17-year-old Joe, whose brother Ed is on death row. With a date set for the execution, Joe must figure out how or whether to reconnect with Ed, who's been out of Joe's life for longer than he's been in it. Joe decides to make the bold move of going across the country to see Ed and support him in the weeks leading up to the execution date. His time alone in the small Texas town where Ed is in prison gives Joe time to reflect on his family dynamics and the love and bonds that endure. He also gets a firsthand look at the way the poor are treated by the justice system, how the media treats sensational crime stories, and the ripple effect incarceration has on families. And while Joe feels alone and unsure when he arrives to see his brother, he finds love and support in unexpected places.
Is it any good?
In this bittersweet, heartbreaking coming-of-age story, a teen boy gets reacquainted with his older brother, who only has two weeks until his execution date in a Texas prison. The poetic, free-verse style of Moonrise lets the words and thoughts of Joe, the main character, flow into each other in a dream-like way. With these snapshots of his emotions and memories, the reader gets an intimate, touching look at Joe's struggles.
The only downside is that the story is so internal that a feel for Joe's surroundings and the depth of some of the other characters are lacking. We do get to see how Joe and his siblings lovingly supported one another, given that their drug- and alcohol-addicted mom was largely absent or useless. The story provides a sobering look at the ripple effect incarceration has on loved ones and how the justice system treats the poor.
Talk to your kids about ...
Deep, unhappy secrets are a common theme in young adult books and movies, such as Moonrise. Do you think this is a realistic portrayal of teen life?
How do you feel about novels written in free verse? Does it add to or take away from the story the author is trying to tell?
What are your most cherished memories of your loved ones?
- Author: Sarah Crossan
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
- Publication date: May 8, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.