Title: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Genre: Adult/Magical Realism
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Emily Benedict has come to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew, she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor, Julia Winterson, bakes hope in the form of cakes, not only wishing to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also dreaming of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.
I’ve started to think that I could only like an adult book if it’s a mystery or from an author I love from other age groups (like J.K. Rowling and Meg Cabot), but this little magical realism gem really caught my interest and has given me more hope for the adult genre.
The beginning was a little rough for me because there are a lot of mysteries withheld, so the beginning is the point where you’re most in the dark and it can be quite frustrating. I was also a little surprised when I found out that one of the main characters, Emily Benedict, was a teenager – most of the few adult books I’ve read have, unsurprisingly, adult protagonists. It didn’t seem out of place in the story, but it did throw me for a few seconds.
There’s not much of a plot, but that’s not a problem. This is about the characters, the idiosyncratic town they live in, and the many secrets that everyone keeps. You keep reading because you want to understand the mysteries and see what happens with the characters – at least that’s the reason that I wanted to keep reading.
The characters really make this book. It’s written in third person, but we get to see various characters’ thoughts, mainly Emily and Julia, the girl who all the secrets are being kept from and a woman keeping many of her own. I wouldn’t have minded the book going on longer so that I got a chance to know the characters even more, especially some of the secondary characters like Emily’s grandfather, a literal giant at least 8 feet tall, but I was still quite happy with what I got.
The town is a character of its own. Many small towns are, but when you mix in magical realism, I think the character grows even more. Mullaby is a small town full of secrets and fascinating citizens, and I would love to get another story with this town as a setting just to learn more about it.
The Adult Situation
This book reminds me a lot of a YA book – there’s some sexual content, but it’s much more vague than many adult books. I don’t mind that – I know how sex works, I don’t always have to get all the nasty details to know what’s going on, and I think it fit with the tone of the whole story to be more vague.
There was a romance for Emily and Julia, but in such a short story with so much going on, they didn’t necessarily feel as fleshed out as they could have been. One has more history to it, so it was a little more fleshed out, but they weren’t the focus and they fell a little short – although I really didn’t mind that much, since it wasn’t the romance that I came for.
The ending was probably my favorite part – after all, at that point, all the secrets have been revealed and we’re just seeing the fallout of the secrets and the storyline taking its course. The fact that so many secrets remained secrets for far too long was my main issue with this book, so I look forwarding to rereading this book because I’ll already know the secrets and can enjoy it more like I did with the end of this book.
It wasn’t perfect, but I was really happy with it anyway. I want to read a lot more magical realism as result, especially more Sarah Addison Allen books. As soon as I finished it, I went on Goodreads and added some of her books, and I can only hope they go as well as this book did for me.