Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes
|Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A gorgeous, bittersweet road trip coming at you straight from left field in all sorts of unexpected ways. It's funny and sad and original, and has a wonderfully unforgettable central character in the Rat. Gregory Hughes was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: April 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
The Rat and Bob are prairie children. Winnipeg is a land so flat you can watch your dog run away for three days. When their father dies and they're orphaned, they are determined to avoid a children's home at all costs and embark upon a road trip to New York City, in search of their long-lost uncle. Bob is pretty much the hanger-on - he knows that the Rat is a special kid who would never make it in an institution and so he puts his fears aside to follow his singular sister.
The Rat is quite bonkers really. She loves soccer, dancing, Native myth and religion. She can recognise an angel when she meets one and she's always on the look out for a goddamn paedophile - she hates them with a passion. She puts on accents. She would swear like a trooper, but she beeps it all out. Beeping this, beeping that. She stands up for her friends regardless of personal cost. She has a bright, vivid spirit and Bob can't help but follow in her wake. But the Rat is fragile too and her brother worries that the search for their uncle just might be her undoing.
Along the way, they meet a kindly cigar smuggler, an hilarious conman, and a chart-topping rapper. They too fall under the Rat's spell and so the children aren't without help when they do eventually encounter one of those goddamn paedophiles. But will they ever find their uncle?
I almost passed on reviewing this book. I'm not sure why, because it's got a gorgeous cover and I love a road trip. Thank heavens I didn't because I thoroughly enjoyed it - in fact I shed a tear or two at the end. The Rat is a gorgeous central character. She's utterly original - while the combination of naughtiness and sassiness is nothing new, in fact, we can all recognise it in our own children, the ambiguity and mystery about her visions and her illness are things I don't recall ever seeing before. Told from the point of view of her hapless brother Bob, we can really feel the mixture of exasperation and admiration this singular little girl arouses in others. There's a true bond of love between these siblings and it really does tug at your heartstrings.
It's funny, it's wise, it's beautifully written. It's not afraid of a bittersweet ending, and it came at me completely from left field.
My thanks to the good people at Quercus for sending the book.
If road trips and wonderful central characters are their thing, then we can also recommend Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd, which also combines pathos and humour, and The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff, which has a romantic, fable-come-quest feel.
Gregory Hughes was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes is in the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2010.
You can read more book reviews or buy Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes at Amazon.com.
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