Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: Bantam Books (Random House)
Genre: (I'm not really sure what to label this book. It's not really a fantasy, though it has an element of the fantastic. It's also not strictly a women's fiction book and not strictly a Young Adult novel. I would call it an upper-teens-girl book, for which I'm sure there is a professional label, but I don't know what it is!)
After her mother's death, Emily Benedict comes to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with the grandfather she'd never met and had never heard about. As soon as she arrives, she feels something different about the town, something that makes her feel out of place and unwelcome. Her budding friendship with Win Coffey seems to only make things worse as neither her family nor the Coffeys are at all excited about their friendship.
Meanwhile, Julia Winterson is counting the months left to her stay in town as she keeps her father's barbecue restaurant open long enough to pay off the mortgage and make a profit from selling it. But in these last few months, memories and people from her past in Mullaby force her to relive events and rethink what actually happened.
One word - Incredible!!!
This book is just so amazing... The writing is clear and engaging, and filled with little bits of humor. The plot is engaging as well - mysterious and intriguing, with pieces of clues dropped throughout keeping the reader hooked on finding out just what is going on - and then what could possibly happen after everything is discovered.
But the main point of the story is the characters, and they are the shining part of the book. Each character - and there are lots of them, being that this is really two stories merged into one - is unique and individual. Allen manages to keep each one's voice separate from all the others, so that when they say or do something, it feels like the natural response for that character. And on a personal note - I fell in love with (almost) all the characters, flaws and all. I think it's really hard to introduce characters with flaws and still make them likable, but that is exactly what Allen does in The Girl Who Chased the Moon. When Julia finally cries, I felt my heart constrict and almost cried along with her. In my humble opinion, that is the mark of a true masterpiece!
(P.S. If you finish reading this book by June 23, drop by girlsinthestacks.com to join the book club live online chat at 9PM Central time.)