Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Book Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

 Pages: 432
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Starry Eyes
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.  Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.  In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.  To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel."
Birdie has lived a very sheltered life on Bainbridge Island, outside of Seattle. Not only was she homeschooled, but she was raised by her grandparents after her mother's untimely death.  Recently, her grandmother has passed away, so that leaves just her and her grandfather and the occasional visit from Aunt Mona, her mother's best friend.  Also, Birdie loves to visit the Moonlight Diner and while there she meets and has a romantic encounter with a guy named Daniel.  She flees after their hookup thinking she never will see him again. Until she does.  Birdie, who took a summer job at a historic hotel in Seattle, is working with her one-time hookup, Daniel. Cue the awkward music, especially since Birdie literally ran off after their romantic night.  Birdie is also a mystery book aficionado and Daniel knows this, so he suggest they try to crack the case of famous (yet elusive) Raymond Drake, a bestselling author who is known to stay at their hotel, but keeps his identity a secret.  Will Birdie and Daniel crack this case and in turn, will Daniel break down the walls surrounding Birdie's heart? Jenn Bennett writes quirky, yet adorable, characters better than most YA author out there and in Serious Moonlight she doesn't disappoint.

Birdie is the sort of character that you root for, but you know she is painfully awkward.  Her obsession with mysteries is so endearing though. She often "investigates" people in her own life and loves solving puzzling situations in Serious Moonlight.  Her emotional issues, such as with abandonment, the death of her mother, etc, are all handled realistically and very well. There's no stigma to any of it and Bennett really keeps the romance in Serious Moonlight very sex-positive, which I appreciate. We need more of that in YA literature.  Birdie also has a health issue that is handled very well and I think young adults can appreciate this as well as relate to such a nuanced and complex character.

Her relationship with Daniel is oh-so-adorable in Serious Moonlight. Daniel isn't the too cool jock plays football; he is your regular next door neighbor type of guy with a strong nerdy streak. I just adored him and his interest in magic.  I thought his family life and what his Japanese-American parents also went through was handled very well and I appreciated Bennett addressing such serious issues as internment camps.  It all added to Daniel's complexity, which makes him a much more well-rounded and appealing character.

And that's what Bennett does so very well. Her characters are deep, fleshed out, and multi-faceted.  They shine like diamonds and jump off the page; they aren't caricatures in the very least. I think Bennett, along with John Green, does this the best when it comes to writing complex, quirky and smart young adults. Also, it should be noted that Bennett wrote a fantastic adult character--Aunt Mona! I adored her and seriously want to hangout with her now.

Even though Serious Moonlight has a mystery in it regarding the famous author at the hotel, it also deals with emotional issues, romance, and even health issues.  I liked that it was so much more than your run of the mill YA romance.

While I didn't like it as much as Starry Eyes, it still was an entertaining read and one that kept me flipping the pages. I was sad to say goodbye to Birdie at the end of Serious Moonlight.


2 comments:

  1. I think Birdie sounds like an awesome character!

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    Replies
    1. She was so adorable! I loved her obsession with mystery books. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

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