A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Book written in verse, which will expose readers to storytelling through poetry. Provides insight into how the poor are often ill served by the justice system. Information about prison, especially death row and how the appeals process works.
It can be scary to talk to loved ones about tough topics, but it's the right thing to do. Leave room in your heart to forgive people and let them back in. When things are difficult, it's important to keep some hope for the future. Small kindnesses can make a huge impact on someone's life.
Positive Role Models
Joe makes a few small missteps, but he's a good, sweet kid who takes a big risk to be by his brother's side in the days leading to his brother's execution date. Aside from Joe's mom, his family is loving and supportive. Joe, Angela, and Ed have one another's backs, even in the worst of times.. Their Aunt Karen has some issues with the kids, but she's there for them, providing the stability they need. Side characters like Sue, Nell, and Al are all supportive, good people who help Joe and his family.
Violence & Scariness
References to a killing. Ed's face is battered and bruised in a mug shot.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Drunk teen girls flirt with Joe. Joe's attraction to Nell figures in the story. They kiss and make out, and there is an allusion to them having sex.
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Infrequent strong language includes "s--t," "a--hole," "crap," "bitch," "Christ," "ass," "piss," "Jesus," "God," "hell," and "prick."
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Products & Purchases
Some brands and media mentioned, mostly for scene setting, including, Walmart, Star Wars, Mitsubishi, Converse, Greyhound, Coke, Dr. Pepper, Lego, M&Ms, Kit Kat, Twizzlers, and Reese's Pieces.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Waitress smokes cigarette inside a diner. Teens drink beer a few times. Joe has smoked pot in the past. Joe's mom has serious drinking and drug problem. Joe's dad was a drug dealer.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.