Listen to the Moon
written by Michael Morpurgo
352 pages // published Oct. 2015 // middle grade fiction // World War I
"It is hard to explain how it is not to have memories. But I shall try. You are lost in a world you do not understand, a world in which everything and everyone is bewildering, a world with which you have little connection, to which you do not belong.... You know you must be someone, come from somewhere, but that you will only remember when the doors open, when the light floods on." (Listen to the Moon)
Michael Morpurgo, accomplished author of children's fiction (such as War Horse), has now written a story like none of his previous works.
Listen to the Moon is, in fact, the impossible story of his grandmother as a young girl during World War I. While reading it, one can hardly believe that the stack of events truly took place. (What luck to have a family story seeped into such rich history!)
It's 1915. Nations are rallying together and pitting against the brutal forces of opposing nations and their leaders. One of the most gruesome wars the earth has witnessed is in full effect. Submarines are just making their debut, altering the course of warfare and humankind forever.
And in the midst of it, a girl, almost dead, is found alone on St. Helen's in the Britain's Scilly Isles. Seemingly dropped from the sky, her appearance rumbles through the local villages with suspicion. She won't -- or can't -- speak. Except for one word: "Lucy".
After finding this traumatized lost girl, the Wheatcroft family takes her in. Tension from the neighbors runs high, for there is no way to know whether this girl is a German threat or not. The evidence surrounding Lucy doesn't help her. Nonetheless, Alfie Wheatcroft is determined to be her friend. He desperately wishes to unlock her tongue and provide her with the gift of talking. Who is Lucy, really? Where does she come from?
"To be different in this ignorant world is often mistaken for madness. And we all too often put away those we believe to be different. Difference frightens people, and Lucy Lost is most surely different, very different." (Listen to the Moon)
This is the kind of children's fiction I grew up reading and still enjoy to this day. It's an amazing story filled with historical impact, a quality plot, and the hidden secrets of the human mind. I love Michael Morpurgo's steady writing style -- his allows the story to unveil itself at just the right time.
Listen to the Moon illustrates the power of kindness and the need for healing in any situation. I feel that this novel has many layers. Although most of the book is told through the eyes of a narrator, some parts are told from character flashbacks, or scraps from Dr. Crow's journal or Mr. Beagley's school log. Overall, this gives you the full view of the story, from the various angles, so you can best see how the full story will come to completion.
It is a slow novel, and runs close to 400 pages. This didn't detract from the inclusive delight I held for Listen to the Moon. The elements of Lucy's story come together in an unforgettable way.
Fans of maritime history will enjoy this book due to the eye-opening time period of WWI and the leaps taken during that time (with the advancement of submarines and the tragic sinking of the Lusitania, an event causing opinions to change in the midst of war). My ocean-adoring heart also loved the idea that the children were collected in the mornings and taken to school via a little boat.
I would recommend for anyone 9 and up. Adults will love it too! This makes for a great family story to read together.
Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.
Listen to the Moon has just been released in October. Buy your copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble in either paperback, hardcover, or e-book format.
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