Two unlikely but resilient friends yearn to know who they really are in this sensitively told novel in verse. Escaping from her abusive single father after he burns her, 16-year-old Allison desperately hopes to locate and live with her father’s former fiancee. But Allison can’t find her, so she takes refuge in the Cornwall house of Marla, an older woman suffering from dementia who believes that the girl is her long-lost friend Toffee. As Allison cares for Marla and evades her other, ineffective caretaker and her mean-spirited son, affection deepens alongside her desire to stop pretending that she is someone else. A complicated friendship with Lucy, a wealthy local girl, heightens Allison’s feelings of inadequacy, until Marla, in a brief moment of clarity, helps Allison untether herself emotionally from her dad. Crossan’s (The Weight of Water) finessed portrayal of Allison palpably exposes, by turn, her selfishness, compassion, and longing to be loved, while the haunting narration pulls the reader into Allison’s thoughts and memories as she learns to cast off the invisibility she has used to protect herself. Ages 12–up. (July)
“Beautiful… An uncommon, successful approach to a tough topic.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“This exquisitely well-balanced novel-in-verse is painful to read yet almost impossible to put down. . . . Each character is fully realized, with even walk-on characters brought vividly to life with a few deft words. . . . A must-purchase for collections.” SLJ on MOONRISE (starred review)
“Beautifully told and incredibly powerful. . . . Deeply moving and thoughtful, Moonrise is a challenging, potent reminder that there is great injustice in the justice system and questions whether the death penalty is ever a fitting punishment.” Foreword Reviews on MOONRISE (starred review)
“Brutally emotional . . . Crossan's eloquent usage of language in this deeply affecting novel puts readers right at the heart of a very sensitive and timely story.” Kirkus Reviews on MOONRISE
“Crossan masterfully portrays Joe's intense feelings of confusion, anger, and abandonment through conversational, fluid free verse, with thoughtful rhythm and line breaks.” Publishers Weekly on MOONRISE
“The novel-in-verse format . . . manages to capture many complex emotions while saying very little, leaving the core of the story to captivate and immerse readers. The ending will utterly devastate readers; it could also trigger some really great conversations between teens and adults regarding social issues.” VOYA on MOONRISE
“Touching and heartrending . . . A timely catalyst destined to spark discussions about rights, fairness, and a justice system that succeeds for some but devastates others.” Booklist on MOONRISE
“By telling Ed's story and focusing attention on the kindness and grief of people who have likewise lost relatives to execution as well as the toll it takes on the warden and his daughter, Crossan complicates the sites of empathy and ethics around this issue, making this rarely told story a useful discussion starter.” BCCB on MOONRISE
Gr 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old Allison has run away from home and her physically and emotionally abusive father in search of the only adult with whom she has ever felt safe. When she is unable to find her father's former girlfriend, Allison is homeless in Cornwall, England. The teen finds herself sneaking into an older woman's house in search of food. Gray-haired Marla has dementia and confuses Allison for her long-time friend, Toffee. While Allison finds ways to hide from Marla's relatives, she develops a strong, caring bond with Marla as her companion and imaginary friend. Allison's pain is raw, and readers are given an intimate look into her emotions in this first-person narrative told in verse. The sparse language does not provide much in the way of descriptions of the characters. Though readers do not find out the ethnic background of Allison, Marla, or Toffee, we do learn that Allison and Toffee share a large scar on their faces—one that Allison tries to hide with Marla's bronzer, making her "implausibly tanned—skin the color of apricots." Between Crossan's descriptions of abuse, drinking, and strong language, school librarians may find this better suited to high school readers. VERDICT An emotional verse novel that addresses domestic violence, teen homelessness, and intergenerational friendship.—Monisha Blair, Rutgers Univ., NJ
In Cornwall, a 16-year-old runaway and a senior with dementia form an unusual friendship that leads to mutual solace.
Allison has always been able to cope with her angry, widowed father’s abuse, especially with Kelly-Anne, her father’s fiancee, there to mediate. But when Kelly-Anne leaves suddenly and her father burns her face, Allison runs away. Crossan, the Children’s Literature Laureate of Ireland, conveys the teen’s story in raw verse. While seeking refuge in a presumably empty house, Allison quickly discovers that it’s occupied by Marla, an elderly woman with dementia. Confusing Allison for a childhood friend named Toffee, Marla invites the teen into her home. At first Allison pretends to be Toffee simply to live with Marla and survive, but when she secretly observes the disrespect and abuse Marla receives from caregivers and family, she uses her predicament to give Marla the life she deserves. Crossan weaves in flashbacks from Allison’s past to help readers understand her thoughts and actions during this transition. Despite Marla’s dementia and the age difference, it’s clear that both women understand each other’s hardships and grow in friendship because of this mutual sympathy. The effect is at once painful and beautiful. Although the spare format forces readers to fill in gaps, it also renders lovely imagery as Allison seeks the family she needs. All characters seem to be white.
An uncommon, successful approach to a tough topic. (Verse novel. 14-18)