Review Blog

Oct 24 2017

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408878439
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) In this stunning new work, an extended lyrical work reminiscent of 17th century lyrical poetry, Sarah Crossan plummets the reader into the lives of one family and the outcome that looms for one member. As she leads us into the complex, violent, dramatic and immensely sad lives of the family, we are drawn deeply into the events of the past that have led to this point. The story is discomforting, its tale alternating between love and neglect, loyalty and rejection. Here we have a family that did not nurture the children, where there is violence, and the parents seem to have been careless of the wellbeing of their children. One of the children is to be executed for his crime, of manslaughter, and his sister is determined to offer him love and understanding. Harsh and deeply moving, the reality that Crossan presents becomes discomfortingly comprehensible both in the crime and the punishment.
Told in its bare essentials through a gentle, poetic structure, this narrative offers us the shocking contrast of neglect and love in one family, and disturbs us with a harsh state response that is unforgiving. It is constructed in an unusual manner for a story placed clearly in the modern world of narrative literature, the story told as an extended poem. Crossan, in her creation of warmth and in her deft handling of the angst felt by the family, uses the bareness of this poetic narration to draw us into the family's disturbing past and present.
Captivating and powerful, Crossan's work tells nothing outside of the events and interactions that are crucial to the narrative, yet the emotions, the drama and the characters are evoked in a surprisingly lyrical manner. Unexpectedly, as we are drawn into the world of the text, Crossan builds a feeling of calm, elicited in the delicate brushstrokes that paint the love of one sibling for another, in its bare details. This extended poem, in its gentle tone, is clearly quite at odds with the brutality described and the violent punishment that is about to occur, yet it is difficult to ignore her unwritten plea for forgiveness and understanding, for clemency and non-violent punishment. It is apt for adults, suitable for older adolescents, but its topic difficult to understand and disturbing in reality for younger adolescents.
Elizabeth Bondar

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