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Ginny Moon: A Novel Hardcover – May 2, 2017
The Amazon Book Review
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An Amazon Best Book of May 2017: It’s the rare novel that has an autistic teenage heroine, and an even rarer novel is one that surprises you on every single page, as Ginny Moon quite emphatically does. Told from the point of view of thirteen-year-old Ginny, this absorbing debut sets at its heart Ginny’s obsession with “Baby Doll,” whom she unwillingly abandoned four years ago when she was taken away from her drug-addicted and abusive birth mother. Ginny fears Baby Doll is still in a suitcase, where she left her when the police separated Ginny from her mother, and Ginny has been testing and breaking the patience of various foster parents in her attempts to reunite with her mother so that Ginny can again take care of Baby Doll. Ginny is not stupid—she finds her birth mother on Facebook, steals another student’s phone to contact her, and concocts various plans to get back to her Baby Doll with a single-mindedness that is as daring as it is alarming, for Ginny is fully aware that her birth mother will likely again physically abuse her. Ginny’s unpredictability keeps the pressure high, and I wondered throughout how this novel could possibly deliver a satisfying conclusion. But Benjamin Ludwig, himself the foster parent of an autistic teen, pulls together the action into a tear-provoking finale that will have you cheering for the stubborn, brave, impulsive, and ultimately heroic Ginny Moon. (Heck, I’m getting teary just writing this review.) —Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review
"Ginny Moon is a brilliant debut. In asking us to identify with a developmentally delayed, autistic teenage girl and her peculiar obsession, Ben Ludwig set himself an Olympic degree of difficulty, but he succeeds with the extraordinary Ginny Moon. I was unable to put the book down as I willed her to overcome the obstacles within and around her. Ben Ludwig is a fine observer of human dynamics, and his sometimes dark sense of humor means that the emotional journey, challenging as it is, never becomes wearing. I was mightily impressed--this novel has all the elements for critical and popular success!" -Graeme Simsion, New York Times bestselling author of The Rosie Project
"Ludwig's excellent debut is both a unique coming-of-age tale and a powerful affirmation of the fragility and strength of families.... Ludwig brilliantly depicts the literal-minded and inventive Ginny." -Publishers Weekly, starred review
In Ginny Moon, Benjamin Ludwig captures the singular voice of his heroine, a brilliant girl you won't soon forget. -Real Simple
"[E]nlightening...compelling...remarkably engaging...A heartwarming and unforgettable page-turner."-Booklist, starred review
"This stunning debut novel grabs readers by the heart and doesn't let go. Fourteen-year-old Ginny Moon chronicles her increasingly harrowing life with her Forever Parents with one of the truest voices in modern literature.... Ludwig's triumphant achievement is borne from his own experience as the adoptive parent of a teen with autism, and his gorgeous, wrenching portrayal of Ginny's ability to communicate what she needs is ¬perfection."-Library Journal, starred review
"Fresh, funny, heartbreaking and real, you will love this novel. Sometimes an author comes along who captures the moment in its complexity and fierce detail, illuminating the world in a way that changes readers perceptions and opens our hearts to understanding. Ginny Moon brings you inside the experience of autism, revealing the experience of it, not only what it must be like from the outside, but how it must feel from within. Benjamin Ludwig paints in every color with ferocity and ultimately, joy. I was galvanized by this read. You will be too. This is a book to savor and share with everyone you know. I did and I will." -Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of The Shoemaker's Wife
"Benjamin Ludwig gives us a remarkable heroine in Ginny Moon.Writing poignantly and yet starkly believably from an autistic girl's point of view, he allows us to see the world in all its glorious mess, full of people trying to do their best and often failing, but heroically so."-Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue
"There is no guessing where Ginny Moon is going to take us in this page-turning, surprising, funny, heartbreaking, at times disturbing, and ultimately morally complex story. In Ginny's logical yet perplexing mind, it makes sense to try to get kidnapped by her dangerous birth mother. But something much larger is at stake, and we are left with the question-is love unconditional? What makes a good parent? A moving and thought-provoking debut."-Eowyn Ivey, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and national bestselling author of The Snow Child
"In telling the tale from Ginny's perspective, Ludwig captures the carefully constructed, sometimes-claustrophobic world Ginny inhabits.... By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, Ginny's quest for a safe home leads her to discover her own strong voice."-Kirkus Review
"Compassionate, evocative and heartwarming."-InStyle, UK
Benjamin Ludwig's novel is a genuine and touching debut; Ginny Moon is a wonderful and memorable heroine." -Dan Chaon, National Book Award Finalist and bestselling author of Await Your Reply and Ill Will
"A heartwarming but refreshingly honest story about the making of an American family, told by a character who is, indeed, original-and impossible not to love." -Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty
"If I could ask Ginny Moon one question-and she only does allow one question at a time-it would be what does it feel like to be the heroine of a compulsively readable novel? Benjamin Ludwig does such a wonderful job of conjuring Ginny onto the page and of making us turn those pages at breathless speed. Ginny Moon is a sparkling debut." -Margot Livesey, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury and The Flight of Gemma Hardy
"It is the rare debut novel that reveals a writer of such immense talent as to achieve a dazzling lit¬erary home run the first time up to bat. Such is the case with Benjamin Ludwig's Ginny Moon, an extraor¬dinary coming-of-age story told from the perspective of a 14-year-old protagonist with autism.... Ludwig has interjected his often-heart¬breaking narrative with laugh-out-loud observations from Ginny, who loves Michael Jackson and displays a wicked sense of humor.... Tremendous."-Bookpage
"Ludwig creates a startling, powerful voice in Ginny Moon, a character who lingers well beyond the pages. This is gripping work." -Erika Swyler, bestselling author of The Book of Speculation
"Artfully rendered, heartbreaking, funny and suspenseful, Ginny Moon is a veritable smorgasbord of a read that will stay with you long after you've consumed the final page. Excellent!"-John Lescroart, New York Times-bestselling author
"In his riveting debut novel, Benjamin Ludwig has given life to the unforgettable Ginny Moon. With a compassionate and insightful voice, Ludwig shares a story that will have readers cheering for Ginny, fearing for her and wanting to reach inside the pages of this poignant novel to guide and protect her. Ginny Moon will live on well past the last page and will forever change those who spend a little time with her."-Lori Roy, Edgar Award-winning author
"Ginny Moon had me wrapped around her little finger from the first page, and I'd have stayed under her spell for a book twice as long; it made me late for many appointments, and I was never sorry. This is a thrilling, often hilarious story, as heart-pounding as it is big-hearted." -Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House
"Benjamin Ludwig's Ginny Moon is both honest and raw. Ludwig gives voice to the voiceless. You might not know that the book is partially inspired by Ludwig's adoption of a teenager with autism, but you should be among the first to get to know Ginny Moon."-Alexi Zentner, author of The Lobster Kings and Touch
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Top Customer Reviews
Ginny is lucky. After a series of foster homes and a truly horrific early childhood with her birth mother, Gloria, she’s finally in a place where she feels safe and wanted, where people understand her unusual mind, her need for routine and clarity, and her desire to always know exactly what time it is. But something inside Ginny is stuck --- stuck back at Gloria’s house when Ginny was nine years old, back when Gloria’s boyfriends were scary and Gloria sometimes disappeared and Ginny had to take care of her Baby Doll when no one else would or could.
So despite her current situation, her hard-won stability at home and school, Ginny can’t stop thinking about her Baby Doll, and rescuing that helpless little baby so she doesn’t get hurt the way Ginny once was. Things only get worse when Forever Mom and Forever Dad announce that they’re having a baby, something they never thought was possible. Suddenly Forever Mom seems cautious or even scared around Ginny, Forever Dad is dealing with high blood pressure, and Ginny is taking bigger and bigger risks to try to return to Gloria and her Baby Doll --- and the Ginny she once knew.
Debut novelist Benjamin Ludwig is a long-time English teacher. He and his wife decided to foster a teenager with autism several years ago, and he discovered the genesis of Ginny’s story while attending his foster child’s Special Olympics practices. Ludwig clearly understands and validates the unique thought processes of special kids like Ginny. Although her behavior is not always admirable, her thinking is always clear and entirely rational within her own idiosyncratic world view. Ginny is also unerringly honest and good at telling when other people are not being equally truthful, even if she can’t always articulate or understand why they might be lying.
The technique of using a naïve or youthful character’s perspective to build dramatic irony is not particularly novel. Still, Ludwig does so especially well, filtering, in particular, the dialogue of Ginny’s Forever Parents and, eventually, her Birth Dad, through Ginny’s perspective in a way that will resonate with readers differently, perhaps than it does with Ginny herself. Ludwig also illustrates characters who are, pretty much without exception, flawed in some fundamental ways. The adoptive parents are not saints, nor is Gloria an unrepentant sinner. All the characters, however, including Ginny, are trying to do the best they can with the resources they have at hand.
Ginny is, in some ways, a lonely character, compelled in the end to come to her own conclusions despite the best efforts of her social worker and her foster parents to usher her thinking forward. But that’s what Ginny’s story reveals throughout. Despite her unique way of seeing and thinking about the world, she’s not really alone. She is surrounded by love, even if she can’t always recognize or name it.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
Throughout the novel we are taken into the mind of Ginny Moon, who refers to her adoptive parents for the majority of the novel as Forever Mom and Forever Dad, and everything is either approximately or exactly. For some readers this can become tedious. For me, it was ok. I had issue with the characters in this book. I found that even though Ginny was taken from her abusive mother, Gloria, I found her adoptive mother to be verbally abusive to her as well. I felt that throughout, Ginny did not have anyone stable to turn to. The adoptive mother makes many a mention of getting rid of Ginny, even arranging her to go to a girls home for "not safe girls."
This really kinda angered me, in the sense that if the adoptive parents did not do their own research in caring for an autistic child, then they should not have welcomed her into their home. It just seemed, that no matter the part the person played in Ginny's life, they were the most unstable individuals I have come across.
Overall, good novel, not great, I felt sorry for Ginny and the ordeal she had to go through.
All of this sounds like the making of a predictable and maudlin book, but in the hands of Benjamin Ludwig, it’s not. Perhaps the reason is that in the aftermath, Mr. Ludwig shares that he and his wife adopted an autistic teen—so he knows whereof he speaks. And perhaps the reason is because Ginny Moon, the character, is so darn believable.
She’s literal-minded, sure, and she’s also obsessive: consistently asking to be reunited with the “baby doll” she was forced to leave behind when she was taken from her abusive birth mother. Her frantic fears for the safety of the baby doll hold the key to the entire story, and as the truth unfolds, it’s impossible to not fall in love with this very flawed, very human, and often confused young teen. The voice sounds authentic.
What I loved about this story is that Benjamin Ludwig never cops out with one-dimensional portrayals. The adoptive parents, Maura and Brian, are humans, not martyrs, and they don’t always do or say the right thing and yes, they get frustrated and downright angry with the situation. The birth mother, too, is portrayed in more than black and white—truly loving her daughter but not having the first clue about what healthy love really means and failing miserably in protecting and nurturing.
I went into this novel a skeptic, expecting a kind of “chick lit” read about a teen who surmounts her challenges and emerges victorious. But there’s also a deeply human element about what happens when one person becomes the biggest obstacle to receiving the love and safety she so desperately wants. I cheered for—and cared about—Ginny and her push-pull struggle to fit into a stable life.