Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

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The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

Read: March of 2011
This is my favorite book of all time because it gave me hope.

Release Date: February 8, 2011
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 304
Price (Paperback): $12.99

“There’s this promise of happiness out there. I know it. I even feel it sometimes. But it’s like chasing the moon – just when I think I have it, it disappears into the horizon.”

If there were ever a book that could cure any type of turmoil, this would be the one. Each word is dipped in a mixture of sweet southern honey and chased with smooth whiskey, giving the reader a good burn with the turn of each page. With a little bit of whimsy and a splash of magic, Sarah Addison Allen pulls her readers into a world of southern charm. Drawing from her North Carolina upbringing, Allen drops her readers onto the roads of a rinky dink little southern town bursting at the seams with secrets. Her work is rich and delicious, tempting those who open the book to devour it in one sitting.

Emily Benedict moves to Mullaby, North Carolina after her mother’s death in the hopes of solving some of the mysteries surrounding her mother’s past. When she arrives, she is faced with a legacy that her mother left behind; a legacy that has many townspeople feeling anything but pleased at her arrival. Her eight-foot tall grandfather only makes matters worse by hiding himself indoors, away from the prying eyes of the unforgiving town. Forced to fend for herself, Emily embarks on a journey that will take her from the ever-changing wallpaper that transforms to suit her mood, to the woods behind their home where unexplained lights skip across the darkness of night. Ultimately, she is forced to uncover the buried secrets that her mother left behind and find out why mysteries are a way of life in Mullaby.

Julia Winterson moved back home next door to Emily’s grandfather after her own father’s death. Her plan was to stay for six months to take care of her father’s BBQ establishment and a mound of debt that was left in his wake. When six months slowly comes and goes, the debt is still not paid off and Julia is forced to prolong her own dreams of owning a catering business and remain in her hometown, a place she would do anything to forget. Julia’s only solace is found in baking. In Mullaby, a Hummingbird Cake can be the source of immense happiness. Forced to pluck herself out of the life she created for herself and return to the one place that holds her secrets and weaknesses, Julia is confronted with her old demons and ex-boyfriend—things she never wished to encounter again.

The stories of Emily and Julia mix together like a perfect southern treat. They are the glue that holds everything together despite the pain and confusion that they face. In their own ways, both women discover a past that should have long been forgotten, a present that whirls them through various life changes, and a future that is as bright as the mystery lights. Allen’s hold of magical realism is just enough fantasy without being completely unrealistic and seductive enough to captivate every ounce of attention. By the end, Mullaby seems like that dream little town that one might find if they looked hard enough.

I may be a tad biased because I love Sarah Addison Allen’s work, but this book is spectacular. I was drawn so deeply into the characters, their pasts, and the struggles they faced; that I often got lost myself in the words and forgot about my own reality (not surprising). The writing was rich and inviting, filling my mind with images of the town and its inhabitants. It may only take a day or so to read, but the characters will remain with you long after the book is closed.

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