Book Review: Moonglass

Published By: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Buy it at Amazon
Source: ARC Tour (Good Golly Miss Holly)
Audience: Young Adult

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby is a moving debut that kept me riveted and wouldn't let me go. It didn't take me long to read this book, but in spite of its brevity it has given me so much to ponder. Kirby follows in the footsteps of Sarah Dessen as she paints the tale of a troubled teen who is seeking to find beauty and meaning in a life full of secrets and questions. If this novel is the calibre of writing we can expect from Kirby in the future then I feel that she definitely has staying power. 

Moonglass tells the story of Anna Ryan, who at the age of seven, watched her mother walk into the ocean and never return. The guilt of knowing that her mother's death was not an accident ways on Anna, but she can't seem to bridge the topic with her father. For years, the pair have tiptoed around the issue and tried to live with the dark shadows left behind.

Mr. Ryan takes a promotion as a head lifeguard; Anna's life is disrupted when she must leave her home and friends for a new life in Crystal Cove. Anna isn't sure how she feels about the change - especially because this beach marks the location of where her parents first met and fell in love. Will the move be the first step in healing for the Ryans or will it tear them further apart?

I didn't know much about this book when I joined the ARC tour other than the fact that it took place on a beach. I was surprised by the seriousness of the plot, but I feel that Kirby did a beautiful job with some difficult material. Losing a parent is hard for any child, but losing a parent to suicide is something that leaves deep emotional wounds behind. I can't even begin to imagine how I would deal with a situation of that nature. Anna is such a strong character in spite of the guilt she feels. I truly admire her. Throughout the read, I felt so in tune with Anna that I actually began to feel her emotions coursing through the sentences. I was so invested in her thoughts that I couldn't put this book down. I had to know how things would end up.

I also loved this book because of the setting. You get a true sense of the nature of beach life. Nostalgia vibrated through this novel for me as I thought about the beach trips my family took each summer. Even though this book is about loss and finding peace - there are some typical teenage summer moments as well. Anna is all about get a tan and catching the eye of a certain cute lifeguard, Tyler. The description in this one is spot on - I could almost feel the wind and waves. I also just learned that Crystal Cove is a real place. I love books with real settings. I may just have to make a trip there someday!

Another aspect of this book that I absolutely loved was all the mermaid references. One of the things Anna remembers fondly about her mother is their beach walks to find sea glass. The mermaid myth that sea glass is actually crystalized mermaid tears plays a prominent role. I also liked the parallel between Anna's mother and mermaids. I have to admit that part of me wanted her mother to actually be a mermaid to put a supernatural twist on this one and give Anna and her father a happy ending. However, since this is realistic fiction, that didn't happen. 

Overall, this is a beautiful and endearing read with realistic characters, a great setting, and a well paced plot. I highly recommend it to YA fans.

One Last Gripe: I didn't like how things ended between Anna and Joy. I wanted more closure there - more answers about Anna's mother.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The mermaid lore and symbolism

First Sentence: I read once that water is a symbol for emotions.

Favorite Characters: Anna, Tyler, Mr. Ryan, Ashley

Least Favorite Character: I honestly didn't have one in this read

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.
While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.