Sarah Crossan’s Moonrise is a poignant, resonant and heart-wrenching exploration of our powerlessness against the justice system, and the emotional toll incarceration, and an impending death sentence, has on the offender and their family. The story is sad, but never overly sentimental, and truly shines when Crossan focuses on the lasting impact of individual moments. The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious young adult novel.
The Moon brothers — Joe and Ed — were inseparable in their youth, the latter being the troublesome and cheekier older of the two, who looked after his sibling as best he could when nobody else would. But Ed always had a wild streak — honed perhaps by a dysfunctional home life — and a determination to escape the life he knew. One day, he did; but things did not work out as planned. When Moonrise opens, we learn that Ed is on death row for killing a police officer, and Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years. When Ed’s execution date is formalised, Joe makes the trip to Texas, hoping that there’s still time to save him, to repeal his fate; and more than anything, wanting to reconnect after so many years apart, and salvage their relationship.
Moonrise is told in verse, which makes the pages fly, its lyrical paragraphs and sentences seamlessly melding together into something beautiful. This is a novel that deftly explores the legitimacy of the death penalty without ever threatening to become a dissertation on the subject. More than anything else, however, it is a book about acceptance; acquiescing to your fate, even when it’s unfair, even when it’s unreasonably harsh. It’s about cherishing the time we have with our loved ones, and living with a willingness to open our hearts.
Moonrise is emotionally tumultuous, utterly gripping and satisfying. It will break your heart, and it will fortify it. It is a thought-provoking meditation on crime and punishment, exquisitely detailing the raw emotions on both sides of the prison cell. It’s about the before and the after, and fighting against the odds. It’s a cruel story, beautifully told. And it is absolutely one of my favourite books of the year.
Format: Paperback (198mm x 129mm x mm)
Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publish Date: 7-Sep-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom