Luna Rae is Not Alone by Hayley Webster
|Luna Rae is Not Alone by Hayley Webster|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Wonderfully heartwarming, Luna is a really brilliant character, and this is a beautifully written, extremely readable story!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: February 2021|
|Publisher: Nosy Crow Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
Luna Rae has just moved house. Moving house is always tricky, but especially when you're ten years old, and you miss your old home, and you and your little sister have to start a new school but your mum seems to be out working all the time. Then there's your dad, who doesn't seem like he's coping so well, and so there's no one to take care of things but you. Everything feels different, and strange, and mysterious, and so Luna finds a way of coping is by watching. She turns detective, and starts keeping an eye on her new neighbourhood, but it turns out she's not the only one keeping watch!
I really loved this book, mostly because I really loved Luna. She is just such a warm, funny, smart and worried ten year old girl that you can't help but love her. The book unfolds in a lovely, mysterious way, as we slowly get to know Luna and see the world through her eyes. At first, it seems that her worries are just because of being in a new home and going to a new school. But something isn't quite right, and the revelation of what's actually going on in Luna's life is teased gently out through the book.
I moved around a lot as a child, and so the 'new girl' feeling rang very true with me. I still get those nerves even now as a grown up when I have to enter any new situation where others already know each other but I'm there for the first time! So there's lots to identify with as you read the story, and even just the classroom 'issues' that go on in all schools everywhere will be familiar. I really enjoyed seeing the development of her friendship with Rudo, with the honesty between them and the gentle humour they banter together. I also felt that the adults are very well written, because they are flawed, and there is no perfect world with them for Luna. We see her having to deal with the life she's been given, and the book captures beautifully a child's frustration at knowing there is more going on, but having the adults around her pretending that everything is okay when it very clearly isn't.
Luna decides to enter a baking competition at the school, and the tension builds in the book as the entry requirements are for Luna to enter with an adult, and so she puts her mum's name down, feeling sure that her mum will be happy to just join in on the day and help, even though she's never around to help Luna plan and practice. The day of the competition draws closer and closer, and there's still no sign of Luna's mum...I was imagining any number of possible situations that could have happened, and the reveal of the truth did come as a surprise to me.
I like that the book also deals with feeling different, and feeling alone as a child. It talks about it in a very plain and simple way, and is very honest and moving because of that. Luna's coping strategies ring so true, and as I read the story I veered from feeling like an adult, and wanting to give her a big hug and make sure she was okay, to feeling like my ten year old self, and wanting to hang out with her and be her friend. Her gentle loving care of her sister Lolly is heartbreaking to read, and yet for all this high emotion I'm talking about, and all the tension and suspense, this is not a sad book! It has plenty of humour in it, and it is heart-warming and uplifting to read.
I just devoured it, and I felt bereft as it ended, wishing there was a little bit more still to read. It's a really beautiful story, highly recommended.
You might also like to read Walls by Emma Fischel.
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