My Review: Reading Graffiti Moon was an absolute pleasure. Not only was the book beautifully written, but setting the story around art--specifically 2 art forms (graffiti and glass-blowing) that are not really focused on in most novels, is pure genius. I'm not sure if this book is a product of research or if the author grew up around graffiti artists and glassblowers. Whichever it is, Cath Crowley did an amazing job with her descriptions of Shadow's many walls throughout the city and Lucy's passion for glass-blowing.
Graffiti has always been an interesting art form to me. It's fascinating how someone can take a basic idea, object, or thing and blow it up on a wall to either express how they feel or to convey a message to the world. And how fast the artists work! I know for many it's the adrenaline rush that gives them the energy to work feverishly.
The glass-blowing aspect was a pleasant surprise. I knew the book was about a girl who is searching for a graffiti artist named Shadow, but I never expected Lucy to be a glassblower! The reason this excites me is because I live in the South Jersey area (in the US) and grew up near a place called Wheaton Village. It is the home of the Museum of American Glass and when I was a kid, I would go on class trips there. And guess what? We got to actually watch glassblowers do exactly what is described in Graffiti Moon! So talk about bringing back childhood memories!
Even though the book is under 300 pages and majority of the story is told within a 24 hour period, the story is packed tight with different themes that many teens go through. Also, strong characterization earned Graffiti Moon a star alone. Cath Crowley is a master of detail. As I was reading along, I couldn't help but take some character notes. Check out my notes below:
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Lucy: In search of a mysterious Graffiti Artist named Shadow. She is very artistic herself-- she practices glass-blowing. Her parents are very eccentric and because of this, she has perhaps a little more freedom then most teens her age. Her father, who currently is staying in the shed, is a magician, working on his jokes and tricks. Her mother is in the process of writing a novel. Although her parents try to explain to Lucy that they just need space during these creative processes, she thinks they are headed for a divorce. Do they eventually get a divorce? Will Lucy find the ever allusive Shadow?
Jazz: Jazz is Lucy's best friend and claims to be psychic. She has a flair for drama and wants to go into acting. Since this is their last year of high school, she wants to find passion--in the form of a kiss-- to use that "experience" during auditions once they graduate. Could Leo be the muse she is looking for?
Ed: Ed lives with his mother in a tiny flat. His mom is putting herself through nursing school while working nights. Ed was working in a paint store until the owner, Bert, died of a heart attack. Ed once had a thing for Lucy. They went on a date but like most young men, he let his hormones get the best of him and he touched her butt. She instinctively elbowed him in the nose, breaking it. Two weeks later, he drops out of school. Could Ed still have feelings for Lucy? Why did he drop out of school?
Leo: Leo is Ed's best friend and he writes beautiful poetry. He borrowed money from Malcolm Dove and has only a certain amount of time to pay him back before Dove and his goons come after him. Leo devises this plan for him and Ed to break into the school and steal supplies so they can get cash to pay Malcolm back. When he meets Jazz, feelings he thought were long buried because of another girl, start to resurface. Could Jazz be a game changer? Why did Leo borrow money from Malcolm Dove? Will his plan work or will he drag Ed down with him?
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Besides excellent characterization, I mentioned before that Cath Crowley has a beautiful way with words. Perspectives alternate between Lucy and Ed, but right before Ed's sections start, Leo's poetry is on display, some assignments for school, and others...well, you will see. Not only is the poetry moving, but Crowley's use of imagery throughout the novel is astounding. Here is one of my favorite examples, Ed describing how he feels about Lucy: “I kept dreaming her and me were tangled like that. Kept dreaming of this spot she had on her neck, this tiny country. I wanted to visit, to paint a picture of what I found there, a wall with a road map of her skin.” Beautiful, right?
Here is another great quote, Ed describing how he feels about art and his struggle with reading and writing: "Feels like art's the only thing I ever figured out. Words, school, I never got the whole picture...I'd try to make a tunnel round the teacher's voice so it came to me clear. Most days I couldn't do it. I'd hear it all and so I'd hear nothing. Like I was standing in a place where every sound was the same level and I couldn't separate the threads."
I can keep quoting this book forever. Here's one more before I move on to my last point. When Lucy tells Ed that her father is a magician. He says, "My dad was a magician too. Got my mom pregnant and disappeared."
I want to wrap up this review by making people aware that the author is Australian and Graffiti Moon is set in Australia. I love books that are set in other countries because I think it's a great way to learn about a different area, a different culture, etc. And although we may learn different things from other areas, what remains the same is the issues our teens go through on a daily basis all over the world. I'm so happy that someone noticed Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon and that it's finally being published over here in the United States. I'm sure where ever this book goes, teens and adults alike will see it for the rare gem it truly is.