People really love their Sarah Addison Allen. Rapid fans gobble up her particular brand of southern comfort with unadulterated joy. For these reasons, I wasn’t shocked when The Girl Who Chased the Moon won our February round of voting. We have some Allen followers among our ranks here at Atlanta’s Lady Litwits.
Allen’s signature magical realism is woven through a tale of two women. Emily, a teenager who has lost her mother and moved back to her mom’s hometown to live with the grandfather she never knew she had. Julia, a woman who has reluctantly moved home after escaping the rejection and emotional distress of small town life. Mullaby, North Carolina is there to welcome them with wallpapered rooms that change with your mood, lights that glow and dance underneath the moon, and the local neighborhood friendly giant. There is also cake.
I’d never read any Allen before this book. But it went down like sugar. So easy and light and smooth. She paints an eerily accurate picture of what small town Southern life is like. The oppressive feeling of not fitting into what often seems to be a very singular acceptance was honest and moving. The group loved Julia and her story far more than the insta-love teenage affair between Emily and Win. We connected to Julia’s emotional struggles and journey from troubled youth to the well-adjusted thirty-something. I suspect this has something to do with Julia being more our peer than Emily.
We did, however, wish that Julia’s story had been given more time, more depth. We wanted to see all the dirty in between times where she was in therapy and recovering from the self-abuse of her teenage years. It’s great that she’d been able to recover and move on, but we wanted to see and feel that struggle alongside Julia. In fact, that’s how we felt about the whole thing. We wanted more. MORE. Allen is a great writer and there are nuggets of something really special about her characters, but the book’s length and density never quite get to the substance we so ardently hoped for.
Most of us bemoaned the end as something far too tidy and way, way too easy. What started off with the tremendous promise of being a great character study of how small towns shape a person and the struggle for acceptance, quickly devolved to something no more substantive than a run-of-the-mill rom com. Michelle even mentioned that the end felt too much like a beginning, like we were only getting started. Several members were ready for a meaty book two!!
Sarah Addison Allen might not have completely won us over with The Girl Who Chased the Moon, but several of us will definitely be seeking out more of her work. I have Garden Spells on the shelf. Have you read any of her books? Which is your favorite?
15 thoughts on “The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen”
I’ve never heard of Allen before. Thanks for introducing her work to me!
You’re most welcome!!
Garden Spells is my fave, with this one running second. I do like her tidy endings just for the fact that they are done when they’re done. The magical realism is my favorite part, and these definitely go down easy.
The magical realism is my favorite part as well. Can’t wait to read Garden Spells!!
I don’t like tidy endings but have heard great things about this author. Wondering how she compares to Alice Hoffman? Thanks for the review!
I wonder how she compares to Hoffman as well. I haven’t read any Hoffman so I can’t answer.
That’s such a great way to describe the ending… too much like a beginning. Because I too enjoyed this book but the ending ruined it for me. Great review!
Yeah…that ending was a bit too much.
Garden Spells is my favorite of hers, but I like The Sugar Queen and her most recent one, Lost Lake, as well.
Think I’ll pick up more of her books this summer. Seems like some great poolside reading. I’m glad to hear you liked Lost Lake.
Someone actually recommend The garden spells to me. I might read it and see how I like this author.
Give her a go! She’s light, easy, and fantastical. Won’t take up too much time either.
I haven’t read any of Allen’s book, but I love magical realism and happy books, so I’ve noticed mentions of her books a few times lately. Definitely an author for my TBR pile, but I might try one of her other books first 🙂
If you like magical realism and happy books, I think you’ll like Allen!!
I enjoyed Garden Spells, but I did wish the characters had been fleshed out more, or maybe the back story was incorporated more subtly. Haven’t read anything else by Allen, but upon your recommendation I’ll be more likely to check her out again when I’m at the library next time.