Friday, June 6, 2014

Review: The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh

Title:  The Moon Sisters
Author: Therese Walsh
Publisher:  Published March 4 2014 by Crown Publishing
ASIN: 9780307461605
Pages:   336 pages
How I Read It: eARC
Genre: fiction, coming of age
Find it at Goodreads

This mesmerizing coming-of-age novel, with its sheen of near-magical realism, is a moving tale of family and the power of stories.

After their mother's probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia—who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights—is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest.

Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn’t be trusted. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, until they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.

Our thoughts:

The Moon Sisters is a novel perhaps best suited to someone else. It obviously appeals to many given the reviews, as it explores lost dreams and grief, and the journey of two sisters struggling to come to terms with both the death of their mother and their relationship with each other. There are many themes in the voices of both Jazz and Olivia (alternating chapter narratives) but we didn’t really connect to either sister or their environment, which most likely explains our lack of enthusiasm. We also did not find the mother, who ‘speaks’ through letters interspersed throughout story, to be a particularly sympathetic character, so the grief over her loss didn’t resonate with us quite as much as it could have.

“My family deserves better than this damaged-pocket woman I sometimes am, even if I don’t know what more I can do to fix her.”

We did enjoy Hobbs and the depth of his character, but overall, almost everyone in this story seemed so lost and unable to find their way that it gave a rather bleak tone to much of the novel. The tale moved too slowly for our liking, and we got a bit lost in the actual journey. We were much more interested in the sisters rediscovering what each means to the other and beginning to heal. Their personal growth and self-discovery could have been higher on the narrative order, in our opinion.

Based on the ‘blurb’ description, we were also expecting more magical realism in this book, which really isn’t present other than a few premonitory dreams. This is more a misconception on our part rather than an actual shortcoming of the book itself, but we do think it affected our enjoyment somewhat.

Despite all this, the writing is really quite good. The descriptions of Olivia's synesthesia are beautifully done,  and there are some wonderful quotes about life, grief, and dreams:

“It’s not simple and it’s not a set truth. It’s a choice. A crossroads. And a different choice could change everything if you let it.”

“Goodbye wasn’t as simple as packing up clothes and furniture and deciding in your head that that’s the way it was going to be. Goodbye wasn’t a thinking thing; it was a feeling thing. Goodbye was hard. Goodbye took time.”

“Funny how we don’t let ourselves take hold of the things we rightfully should, sometimes, and how we hang on to other things long after it’s time to let them go.”

“Maybe there was no such thing as sure in this life. Maybe there was only doing the best we could, hoping that whatever choices we made would land us on the right road in the grand scheme of things .… Life is what you made of it. Perception is everything.”

Even though this wasn't the best book for us, we feel that readers who relate more strongly to the themes included here will hopefully find this to be a worthwhile and more engaging read than we did.

Our Rating

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