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Shooting the Moon Hardcover – January 29, 2008

23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–8— "The Army way is the right way." So says Jamie Dexter's father, The Colonel, a die-hard officer who has raised Jamie and her older brother, TJ, to be proud believers in the U.S. military. Stationed at Fort Hood, TX, in the summer of 1969, Jamie's family is tested when TJ decides to forgo college and volunteers for the Medical Corps in Vietnam. The spirited 12-year-old wishes that she could go, and she shocked to discover that The Colonel disapproves. When TJ sends rolls of film home from the front, Jamie learns how to develop them. They are chock-full of pictures of his surroundings and his favorite subject, the moon, but over time she's less eager to develop the increasingly disturbing images. As Jamie learns about the war from soldiers at the fort's rec center and watches her father grow disenchanted with the Army, her firm worldview is shaken. The clear, well-paced first-person prose is perfectly matched to this novel's spare setting and restrained plot. Dowell captures Jamie's growing self-awareness and maturity with the slightly detached, wistful tone of a memoir related well after the fact, and the precise clarity of a developing photograph. This thoughtful and satisfying story is more a novel of family and growth than of war. Readers will find beauty in its resolution, and will leave this eloquent heroine reluctantly. This is Dowell's most cohesive and engaging novel yet.—Riva Pollard, American Indian Public Charter School, Oakland, CA
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From Booklist

Twelve-year-old Jamie Dexter and her brother, TJ, have grown up with the Army: their dad is a colonel. So Jamie is puzzled when neither the Colonel nor their mother is thrilled to learn that TJ has enlisted. After all, he’s going to war in Vietnam, where Jamie would like to go if she weren’t so young. But then TJ, a photographer, begins to send her rolls of film to develop that gradually reveal the horrors of what he’s seen. This is a sparse, beautifully written story about learning to truly see people, situations, and emotions as they are, not as we want to see them. Through lovingly drawn, complex characters and explicit details about photography, Dowell introduces a war, and the issues surrounding it, that will seem familiar to contemporary readers in spite of the historical setting, and she invites young people to reflect on the many shades of gray that Jamie confronts. Grades 4-8. --Frances Bradburn

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (January 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416926909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416926900
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,140,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Frances O'Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Children's Book Award; Where I'd Like to Be; the bestselling Secret Language of Girls trilogy; Chicken Boy; Shooting the Moon, which received a Christopher Award; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; Falling In; The Second Life of Abigail Walker; Anybody Shining; and the teen novel Ten Miles Past Normal. She lives with her husband and two sons in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've written about this before, but there's a flush of appreciation a reviewer experiences when they discover a great author that they've never read before. Even if that person has been around for years. In the case of Frances O'Roark Dowell, I'd read her first Phineas L. MacGuire book and I thought it was great. Still, I'd never gotten around to reading some of her better known works for older readers. I'd never picked up Dovey Coe or Chicken Boy or even The Secret Language of Girls. It just never came up. Still, I figure a person's got to start somewhere and so the book I decided to begin with her newest title, the historically minded "Shooting the Moon". A lot of people love Ms. Dowell and maybe they've become unable to tell one great book of hers from another. To those people I say this: This book is amazing. Top notch, wonderful, humorous, meaningful, with a pull and a hit in the gut that'll knock a readers' socks off. What we've got here is a title that has an excellent chance of engaging every reader that comes across it. And timely doesn't even begin to describe it.

Jamie Dexter is a card shark, an army brat, and her father's daughter.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew A. Wigdahl on June 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On the recommendation of a kid lit blogger, I ordered a copy of this small, unpretentious book and had a read-through. It is wonderful!
Jamie Dexter is a military brat whose father is a colonel and whose brother has enlisted to be sent to Vietnam. As the story progresses Jamie, who has been pro-war and battle-ready her whole life, begins to reconsider things as she sees her brother's photos from Vietnam. Instead of sending her letters to describe the war, he sends her his undeveloped film rolls to show her. No words, just photos. And in each roll, a photo of the moon.
I feel that this book would work better with older elementary students, only because a coinciding study of Vietnam would be much easier to get into more deeply. The reading level is probably a bit lower than 5th grade, making it an ideal book for a book club who can handle more complex subject matter and high level mature discussions, but perhaps requires a shorter, less dense text. Great themes to explore here, and (at least for this reader, who never even had any siblings gone to war) strong emotional connections.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bibliophile on June 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I guess I'll be the dissenter here.

I thought the book was good, very readable, with good chronological order, which helps young readers make more sense of what they read. I could identify with the main character, Jamie. I was a girl during the Vietnam war, I had a father who had been in the military and who thought the war was just. I idolized my father like Jamie idolizes hers. The premise of the book was okay--how a young girl feels about the war her brother is fighting in. Overall, it wasn't bad.

However...(you knew that was coming)...the story falls a little flat because of poor character development, lack of depth in the story development and a hugely unsatisfying ending. It ends so abruptly that I had to look up the author's bio to see if she died before she finished the book. It was the only explanation I could think of to end the book on such an odd place.

Although Jamie, the main character, spends a lot of time with several of the side characters, we find out little about them. Yes, soldiers are trained to be stoic, but the story would have been much better if the author would have let us have the tiniest peek behind the stoicism to see honest emotions. What did her best friend feel when his brother was killed? What emotions were below the surface when he discovered he was about to be shipped to the war? What did the other soldiers really think about Jamie's enthusiasm for war in general? Why didn't the Colonel try harder to prevent his son from enlisting? Just leaving hints about going to college instead of going to war really seems out of character for a hard-driven man who is used to being obeyed.

The mom almost doesn't exist at all. She seems to be in the novel simply to give Jamie a two-parent family.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By New York Reader on March 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
SHOOTING THE MOON is a deeply moving, gorgeously written novel about one military family's gradual disillusionment with the Vietnam War. It's the most realistic, searching kids' book I've read about that neglected period in American history. It's also a delicately nuanced family drama with unforgettable characters: the richly drawn heroine Jamie, who slowly develops an understanding not just about the war but about love and honor; her soldier brother who communicates by sending her undeveloped photos of Vietnam; her father the Colonel, a steadfast but surprisingly touching career Army man. Everything about this book is fresh and believable--and also poetic, resonant, and memorable. I think kids--and smart adults--will be reading this book for years to come. A real standout.
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