Girl Who Chased the Moon (Allen)

Book Reviews
Allen's latest (after The Sugar Queen) takes the familiar setup of a young protagonist returning to the small town where her elusive mother was raised, and subverts it by sprinkling just enough magic into the narrative to keep things lively but short of saccharine. Seventeen-year-old Emily Benedict, intent on learning more about her mother, Dulcie, moves in with her grandfather, but is disappointed to find that her grandfather doesn't want to talk much about Dulcie. She soon discovers, though, that many still hold a grudge against Dulcie for the way she treated an old sweetheart before dumping him and disappearing. Luckily, Dulcie's high school adversary, Julia Winterson, back in town to pay down her deceased father's debt, takes a shine to Emily. She's working another quest as well: baking cakes every day with the hope that they'll somehow attract the daughter she gave up for adoption years ago. There are love interests, big family secrets, and magical happenings (color-changing wallpaper, mysterious lights) aplenty as Allen charts the spiraling inter-generational stories, bringing everything together in an unexpected way.
Publishers Weekly

After the death of her mother, Dulcie, Emily moves in with her grandfather in Mullaby, NC, and learns of her mother's part in the Coffey family tragedy. Fortunately, not everyone holds Dulcie's past against Emily—Julia welcomes Emily with a cake and offers a shoulder to lean on, but Julia has troubles, too. She's working off the debt on her father's restaurant so she can sell it and open a bakery far from the town that dismissed her so easily as a teen. Things may change if the romantic Sawyer can persuade Julia to trust him with her heart or if Win Coffey can help Emily expose the truth of her mother's deepest secret. Wallpaper that changes with mood, a sweet scent to call one home, and boys who glow in the moonlight will make readers jealous they can't live in a magical world like Allen's. Verdict: That it is never too late to change the future and that high school sins can be forgiven—these are wonderful messages, but Allen's warm characters and quirky setting are what will completely open readers' hearts to this story. Nothing in it disappoints. Fans of Allen's Garden Spells will snap this up. —Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
Library Journal

In Allen's newest sugar-and-spice Southern fantasy (The Sugar Queen, 2008, etc.), a teenage girl comes to live with her grandfather in a small town where oddity is a way of life. Raised by her selfless, politically active mother Dulcie in Boston, Emily has never met or heard about her grandfather until she comes to live with him in Mullaby, N.C., after Dulcie's sudden death. Emily immediately confronts unexplainable peculiarities: Grandfather Vance turns out to be a shy giant over eight feet tall; the wallpaper in Emily's room changes at will; strange white lights materialize at night in the woods outside her window; objects appear and disappear without reason. And then there are the locals' less-than-warm memories of Dulcie. Emily makes friends with Win, a teenage boy whose family secret requires him to stay inside at night. Win tells Emily that his uncle committed suicide because Dulcie cruelly exposed his secret to the town. Grandfather Vance's neighbor Julia, who has also befriended Emily, was Dulcie's classmate and acknowledges that in high school Dulcie-spoiled, rich and popular-mercilessly teased Julia, then a troubled teen who dyed her hair pink and cut herself. Julia left Mullaby when she was 16 and has come back for a temporary stay only because her father died. Until she pays off his debts, she is running his barbecue restaurant, where she has added cakes and pastries to the menu. What Julia doesn't tell Emily is that the night before she left Mullaby to attend a school for troubled girls in Baltimore, she made love with handsome preppy Sawyer and ended up pregnant. Sawyer, who assumed she had an abortion, is now pursuing Julia again, but there is a secret she has not told him. As the parallel romances of Emily and Win and Julia and Sawyer evolve, the secrets of Mullaby become sources of happiness rather than pain. Fans of Allen's brand of romantic whimsy won't mind the inconsistencies and lapses of logic, but others may cringe at the implausibility.
Kirkus Reviews

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