A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Though told with a folktale flavor, West of the Moon offers a lot of information about what it was like to live in rural Norway and to emigrate in the middle of the 19th century. For readers who want more information, the end includes an author’s note, a glossary, a bibliography, and pictures from the real-life diary that inspired the author.
There's kindness in all of us, though sometimes difficult circumstances can make us hide it. Never give up, even when your situation seems hopeless.
Positive Role Models
Astri is intelligent, brave, and fiercely determined to free herself and her sister from their intolerable situations, but her determination can make her ruthless: She steals, lies, and leaves a friend behind to save herself and her sister. She feels remorse for injury and death she causes, and learns to follow the example of her sister, whose kindness brings happiness to everyone.
Violence & Scariness
Astri is sold by her aunt to a goat man into what amounts to slavery. She is beaten, underfed, and not allowed to bathe. A character cuts a man's fingers off, and he dies from lockjaw. On board a ship to America, many passengers die from cholera.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Astri's master, who's much older than she is, threatens to marry her when she comes of age.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that West of the Moon is told with a folktale flavor and many allusions to Norway fantastical creatures such as trolls and changelings, but it's actually well-researched historical fiction. A girl is sold by her family into what amounts to slavery and is beaten and otherwise mistreated by her master. She lies and steals and hurts her master to escape and emigrate to America with her sister and eventually must come to terms with her choices. However, her bravery and honesty are immensely appealing, and the writing style is fresh and compelling. The endnotes offer readers information about the Norwegian folk wisdom that the author wove into this unique tale of hardship and redemption.
Is It Any Good?
WEST OF THE MOON is a fascinating tale told from a unique perspective that will draw readers right into Astri’s difficult and very real situation. The allusions she makes to folktales might at first make readers hope this is a fantasy and that some magical force will help Astri overcome her hardships, but the real story that emerges through the references to trolls and magical princes is riveting and moving. Though Astri’s morals are often ambiguous, her determination to get herself and her sister out of increasingly bad situations is a force to be reckoned with, and readers will root for her and understand her motives.
Preus offers a unique look at the way folktales influenced rural Norway and how they were interwoven into the Christian doctrines and Western medicine that became more widespread in the mid-19th century. Lille Carre's woodcut-like illustrations that introduce each section add to the charm of the story.
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.