The class book review: Moonrise

Poetic justice for a great young-adult writer

David Gower

News article image

Sarah Crossan
Bloomsbury Children’s
400pp, £12.99
ISBN: 9781408867808

If the highest praise Carnegie Medal-winning author Sarah Crossan has been aiming for is from someone who once had a poem published in a collection of Suffolk’s Future Voices, then today she has officially made it.

Moonrise is brilliant. Apparently I can’t just write that, but really that’s all you need to know. And that it’s available to buy now. Moonrise tells the story of Joe, a 17-year-old boy whose brother, Ed, is facing the death penalty for a crime he claims he did not commit. Joe has not seen his brother in the 10 years since his arrest and imprisonment, but Ed’s execution date is approaching, so Joe heads to Texas to be there for him.

The novel moves skilfully between present events and Joe’s memories of being a young boy, spending time with his brother. It is an affecting story about the power of sibling love and how Joe finds the strength to deal with the myriad emotions he feels at this point in his life. I have loved every book I have read by Sarah Crossan, and with this the 100 per cent record remains intact. In my view, she is one of the most important writers of YA fiction around. And I know what I’m talking about, because I once wrote a poem.

David Gower is assistant headteacher at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. He tweets as @david_gower83

Pupil reviews

A death row story to challenge readers

‘It left me in a very emotional state of mind’

Joe doesn’t have the best background, since his dad died when he was young and his mum comes and goes as she pleases. But he has Ed, his older brother.

Ed has been arrested for murder, and Joe knows that he won’t be back for a long time, if at all. But Ed says he didn’t do it. Now Ed’s execution date is set and Joe’s counting down the days until his brother dies.

I thought that Moonrise was an amazing book, which left me in a very emotional state of mind. The build-up to the end was incredible. I loved the way Sarah Crossan told the story. This is because it was from Joe’s point of view, and parts were Joe’s memories when he and Ed were younger. I think this gave it more depth and emotion. I found the ending very frustrating, yet it left me wanting more. This is because of the suspense it leaves.

I would recommend Moonrise to people from the ages of 12 to 16 who love a sad book, as it deals with quite challenging young-adult topics. It is suitable for girls as well as boys.

Nia Fennelow, age 13

‘Amazing and thought-provoking’’

After reading Moonrise, I now have a better understanding of the horrific things families have to go through when they have a close relation on death row.

The suspense is built up all through the book, especially nearer the end when there are more and more flashback chapters. There are other memories of Joe’s throughout the book that become more frequent as it nears the end. These memory chapters are especially moving as the boys had a very difficult home life when they were younger.

Sarah Crossan writes beautifully, in almost poetic verses that keep the book moving quickly. I’ve read two of her other books and, even though they were incredible, this one is still my favourite.

The emotion and likeable characters will stay with me. I highly recommend this book.

Nina Cushing, age 12

‘For everyone who likes a page-turner’

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading Moonrise. It’s not my usual genre of book but it is definitely worth reading. I’m so glad I read it.

I’d never read anything about the death penalty in America and it really made me think about whether it was fair or not. I loved Moonrise; it was really thought-provoking and I would recommend it to everyone who likes a page-turner.

Freya Stevenson, age 12

‘This opened my mind’

Moonrise is told from the perspective of a teenager called Joe Moon. It is a story about how Joe goes to the aid of his brother, Ed, after Ed is put on death row. After travelling to Texas alone, Joe has to find a way to save his brother and try to get the truth out of him. But, as Joe learns, the truth isn’t easy to find, especially when it is a question of life and death.

What I liked about this book is the fact that it is about injustice, because it made me think about how people all around the world face injustice.

Having been touched by the plot of the book, I was surprised at how dissatisfying the end was.

Reading this has opened my mind to the possibly overlooked problems in society, making them seem real and listened to; the way that the author writes helped me to think this way.

Ophelia Mantell-Jacob, age 12

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