From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7-"i don't remember the sun. i don't remember the sun or how my sister, monk, says it warms you up-." So begins Lila's unusual, gentle, almost ethereal narration. She has lived in a reverse world for all of her almost nine years, unable to go out in daylight because of a condition called xeroderma pigmentosum, a "defect that made me sensitive to light. the sun. uv rays. some streetlights." Lila goes to a coffee shop called the Fallen Angel with Monk, 18, in her jalopy and has a nighttime friendship with two girls only she sees. The mysterious, perhaps otherworldly Alyssa and Elizabeth recede as Lila celebrates her ninth birthday in a poignant scene in her backyard. Fireflies gently envelop her, a moment shared and enjoyed by her family and neighbors. Lila gradually accepts that being a "moon girl" is just as good as being a "sun goddess." Recognizing that she is different, that her light is softer than the sun, bolsters Lila's inner strength and ultimate self-acceptance. The writing is lyrical and fluid, and uses no capitalization, but captures a child's feelings. "i feel like i've been eight for practically a hundred years-. if i stay eight any longer, I will have gray hair when I turn nine-." This small, poetic book requires a special reader, but those who meet Lila are likely to remember her.Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* Gr. 3-6. Lila has a rare medical condition: sunlight and certain kinds of artificial light can burn her skin and even blind her. Relatively isolated at home during the day, taken out by her loving parents and older sister at night, she has few friends but a rich fantasy life. Lila begins her narrative two months before her ninth birthday, which she sees as a pivotal time. Among those she believes are two imaginary playmates who appear at intervals and encourage Lila's notion that after collecting certain objects, she will magically be able to go out in daylight. Outdoors at her night birthday party, surrounded by family and friends, Lila experiences an epiphany and embraces being "the moon girl with fireflies." Though few readers suffer from Lila's illness, many will recognize the ragged path she consciously takes as she lets go of a fantasy that has sustained her and begins to leave childhood behind. The book's real magic resides in the spell cast by Johnson's spare, lucid, lyrical prose. Using simple words and vivid sensory images, she creates Lila's inner world as a place of quiet intensity--spun gossamer that proves immensely, unexpectedly strong. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved