A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn a bit about magicians, tricks, famous mystery novels, films and TV shows (each chapter begins with a quote from a favorite sleuth). Also the ingredients in good diner pie.
Explores how loss and grief affect young adults, how sex is more meaningful when it's between people who care about each other, how relationships should be based on honesty and open communication, how passions/interests can help define you.
Positive Role Models
Birdie is intelligent, analytical, a good amateur detective. Daniel is caring, talented. He wants to help and protect Birdie. Racial/ethnic and disability representation: Daniel is half-Japanese, half-white, and his grandparents were confined during WWII internment of Japanese Americans. He's also deaf in one ear because of an accident. Birdie is narcoleptic, has cataplectic episodes.
Violence & Scariness
Recollections of a self-harm incident (an attempted suicide). A young woman with narcolepsy sometimes passes out asleep in somewhat dangerous situations. She falls and loses control of her body, scaring everyone around her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Birdie remembers details about her unconventional first time: a spontaneous one-night stand with a boy she'd only known for a couple of hours. An older teen couple starts a consensual sexual relationship.
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Occasional language: "Oh, s--t," "f--k," "f--ker," "douche," "shut the hell up," "a--hole," "Oh God," "Jesus," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Birdie accidentally eats cannabis-laced gummies and is so stoned she needs Daniel to take care of her.
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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.
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.
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.