As the story opens, it's the end of summer and Anna and her father are moving from her childhood home in Pismo Beach, California, to Crystal Cove. In addition to the difficulties of leaving behind her home and friends, she's also leaving behind her mother; or rather, the place her mother died. When Anna was four, she watched her mother walk out into the ocean and not come back.
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publish Date: May 3, 2011
From Jessi Kirby, a debut novel about confronting the past in order to move ahead. I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both. 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.
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Anna's father is a professional lifeguard, and they are moving to Crystal Cove because he accepted a position there. As Anna starts to get settled in and meet new friends, she slowly learns there's more than just a new job in Crystal Cove - it's the place where her parents met and fell in love.
My thoughts: First I have to say that I love the cover - they nailed it, and, it's gorgeous. The title refers to the pastime Anna and her mother used to share: They'd walk along the beach looking for sea glass. When Anna found a piece at night, they dubbed it moon glass.
I fell right into Moonglass, and by the end of the first chapter I was hooked. Anna is a sweet kid and I liked her. She seems pretty well-adjusted, but her memories of her mother are constant, even in this new place, away from where she killed herself. She never talks about her mother with her father. It's not that she's not allowed to, they just don't discuss her.
She meets Ashley, a stereotypically rich, gorgeous, weight-obsessed California girl, and since they'll both be starting school together as new students, they decide to be friends. When Ashley asks about her mother, Anna doesn't tell her she's dead.
She also meets Tyler, a cute lifeguard working on the beach in front of her house. Her father has warned the lifeguards away from Anna, but she gets invited to their end-of-summer beach party, and gets to know Tyler a little better. She also learns a little history of the Cove and how her parents met. A tiny peek into her mother's life...and she wants more, no, she doesn't want more...but she does. She learns her mother lived in one of the cottages; it's one of the now-abandoned cottages, and she can sneak in, if she wants.
Anna's relationship with Tyler progresses at a sweetly, yearningly slow pace, and she wants to think about him and not her mother. Her running helps her forget her questions about her mother, but the questions seem to be coming more frequently now, especially as she meets more people who knew her mother.
I thought this was a fabulous story; there is so much more to it than what I've talked about in my review: her relationship with her father, her mother's past, Anna's own feelings about her mother's death. It's not a light, fluffy read, but still a great book for summer reading - the author really brings the beach setting off the pages. I thought her friend Ashley's character was a bit superfluous and annoying, but not enough to diminish my enjoyment of the book.
Moonglass is Jessi Kirbi's debut novel, and I can't wait to read more by this author.
The giveaway: Simon and Schuster is offering a copy of Moonglass to two lucky winners! (Trust me, this is one you want to win!!) To enter, leave a comment telling me why you like reading YA, and a way to contact you. US addresses only please. Following is not required but is appreciated. Ends May 22.
This book was received by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.