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The Girl Who Chased the Moon: A Novel Hardcover – March 16, 2010
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Sarah Addison Allen on The Girl Who Chased the Moon
"How tall is he?" she asked, her voice hushed, as if he might hear. "Tall enough to see into tomorrow."--Chapter Two, The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Every book I’ve written has had some element of fairytale to it. The sentient apple tree in Garden Spells. The Rapunzel references in The Sugar Queen. And The Girl Who Chased the Moon is no different. I actually ended up with a giant in this story.
I remember when I first wrote elderly Vance Shelby into The Girl Who Chased the Moon. He walked into a room and had to duck under the doorframe. I knew then that this was no ordinary man. This was a giant. But how tall was too tall? When would real become unreal? It’s a fine line. I began to research gigantism and discovered the tallest man in history for whom there is irrefutable medical proof: Robert Pershing Wadlow, the Giant of Illinois. At the time of his death at the young age of 22, Wadlow was almost nine feet tall. It’s a stunning number, isn’t it? Nine feet tall. I pored over old film and audio interviews from the 1930s, trying to get a feel for what his life was like, so I could present with veracity this magically tall man in my story. What I discovered was a soft-spoken gentle giant whose legs were so long he walked like he was on stilts, whose body listed to the side like a skyscraper made of soft wood instead of concrete. But he was always smiling, accepting the stares and the requests for photos good-naturedly as he toured with Ringling Brothers and the International Shoe Company. He never hid himself away. He mingled among regular-sized people like he knew he had to savor every moment. And maybe he did know. Maybe he was tall enough to see into tomorrow.
In honor of Wadlow, I took all that I thought a young giant might wish for--a long life, a wife, a family, a place that accepted him as he was, where he was just another town oddity--and I gave it to elderly Vance Shelby in The Girl Who Chased the Moon. And as an old giant, Vance looks back on a life he always wanted to be extraordinarily small, and finds that it was exactly the size it needed to be. Which I think might be truth for us all. --Sarah Addison Allen
From Publishers Weekly
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. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
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While this book was certainly cute and enjoyable – I would not bother reviewing a book if I did not take some grain of pleasure in reading it – it has potential but fails to deliver. For example, there’s a lot of buildup to a secret the romantic lead is keeping. However, they live in a strange town where surreal tidbits are fed to the reader freely. Therefore, when the secret is revealed, and it turns out to be no more magical than anything else read previously, it’s a disappointment. I was expecting more, and I don’t know why Allen chose to hide something that - compared to the magic of the rest of the town - is fairly ordinary.
In the back of my copy, Allen says that her writing process is “organic;” she doesn’t outline, and in fact had no idea that magical cakes would become such a major point in her story. I gently wonder if, perhaps, she had outlined, then the more imaginative parts of the story would have been given the time they deserve, and the less interesting parts been scrapped in past drafts. As it stands, I felt as if I were reading a rough draft rather than the final version.
Beautifully written without being pretentious even the magic doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Sarah Addison Allen writes about a peculiar kind of realistic magic. Her books pull you in makes you feel welcome the perfect companion for a cold winters night.
“There is a promise of happiness out there. I know it. I even feel it sometimes. But it’s like chasing the moon – just when I think I have it, it disappears into the horizon. I grieve and try to move on, but then the damn thing comes back the next evening…”
Did the book make me laugh:
No, but it did wrap me in happiness.
How did the book make me feel:
The book made me think about my own mother and how we never wonder about our parents life experiences.
I've read this book so often the cover is getting worn, but it's still one of my favorites. I love Emily's sincerity, Grandpa Vance's gentle giant, Julia's pink streak, and Win's defiance. Not to mention Sawyer's southern charm. The Mullaby Lights are fascinating, and seeing Dulcie's transformation is eye-opening. A beautiful, slow-paced story, with "strange and wondrous things" to behold, covered in silver sparkles only those with the sweet sense can see.
It had almost a "Romeo and Juliet" feel ... girl moves in with her (very tall) grandpa, and she falls in love with a boy that she really shouldn't. Town secrets, regrets, romance, some very yummy descriptions of food (including barbecue!), and a perfectly beautiful closing chapter ... and of course, SAA's trademark touches of magic. I loved the changing wallpaper! And when Vance talks about the story of the dryer... it's so sweet <3
Highly, highly recommended.
Made me laugh, sympathies and weep. Of love and loss and hearts rekindled. I didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep involved in the characters future. ALLENs' novels are always a great feel good novel with believable characters with just the right amount of whimsy. Can't wait to read the next book I n the series.
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