A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Serious Moonlight is a young adult romance from Jenn Bennett, who once again tackles tough topics such as loss, grief, self-harm, and disability. In this story, two older teens who once hooked up without knowing each other's names rekindle their friendship -- and more -- after they work at the same Seattle hotel. The main characters, who are 18 and 19, both have medical conditions (she's got severe sleep issues that point to narcolepsy, and he's partially deaf), and there's positive representation of Japanese American culture, since the love interest discusses his grandparents' treatment during the Japanese internment of World War II. The language is occasionally strong ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," etc.), and the romance builds up to a consensual sexual relationship.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, best-selling author Jenn Bennett's fourth young adult romance, follows homeschooled orphan Birdie Lindberg, who ends up working at the same grand Seattle hotel as her handsome one-time hookup Daniel Aoki. Clever Birdie, who lives with her recently widowed grandfather on Bainbridge Island (a ferry ride away from Seattle), loves detective novels and true crime mysteries. When Daniel, who's a talented magician, suggests they team up to figure out if a mysterious hotel patron is actually a reclusive, internationally renowned author who always uses a pen name, she can't resist. Sparks -- and problems -- ensue as Birdie and Daniel grow closer and begin to solve the hotel mystery, with a little help from Birdie's honorary godmother (her late mother's best friend) and delicious pie at their favorite city diner, Serious Moonlight.
Is it any good?
This is a swoon-worthy but substantial teen romance from one of the genre's most capable authors, Jenn Bennett. It's an ideal pick for fans of Gayle Forman, Brigid Kemmerer, and Jandy Nelson. One of the best aspects of the story is how prominent a role Seattle plays in it, offering precise details about locations and landmarks where Birdie and Daniel meet up, as well as a fascinating exploration of how Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest connect with their culture -- particularly the haunting past of Japanese internment during World War II. Birdie and Daniel's relationship is somewhat backward: They hooked up one sweet but then awkward time and only really get to know each other months later when they become co-workers. But Bennett makes it clear that while attraction can be immediate, real friendship and love take time.
There's a lot going on between Birdie -- possible narcoleptic and obsessive lover of mysteries with a sad and unconventional upbringing -- and Daniel -- partially deaf magic aficionado overcoming his own sadness. This isn't a lightweight romance where the teens' biggest concerns are based on class or social status; these two have uppercase problems, but they manage to acknowledge and overcome their issues. Bennett's romances are always memorable for dealing with heavy topics in a nuanced and considerate way, and this one is no exception. The mystery-solving, the conversations over pie, and the vulnerability Birdie and Daniel show are just a few examples of how their relationship is based on more than superficial attraction. Bennett writes lovely, sex-positive teen romances for mature readers ready for more than fairy tale happily-ever-afters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of realistic contemporary novels like Serious Moonlight. Why are they so popular with teens. What makes them relatable?
Which characters, if any, do you consider role models in the book? What character strengths do they exemplify?
How are sex and romance portrayed in Serious Moonlight? What do you think of Birdie and Daniel's relationship?
Discuss the different kinds of diversity depicted in the book. Why is there a push for more representations of diversity in children's literature?
- Author: Jenn Bennett
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publication date: April 16, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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