When Anna was little, she and her mother used to search for sea glass, but since they looked at night, they called it moonglass. Now, ten years after her mother’s mysterious death, her father is working as head lifeguard on the same beach where her mother grew up and her parents first met and fell in love.
Reluctant to get close to anyone (including her father) and not pleased about having to start at a new school, Anna begins to spend more time alone, running the length of the beach and wondering about who her mother really was. After meeting a lifeguard named Tyler, she slowly lets her guard down and together they start exploring the abandoned houses that dot the beach.
But when learning more about her mother’s past leads to a painful discovery, Anna must reconcile her desire for solitude with ultimately accepting the love of her family and friends.
I’ll admit, I was already hooked when I opened the envelope containing the advanced copy of Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, and a sachet of colored glass tumbled out. I’ve always lived near the water and I’m drawn to books set on coasts. Moonglass is not only set on the California coast, it practically drops its readers in the sand with original descriptions and vivid imagery that conjure the “salt life” with nothing more than paper and ink.
In the same vein as Heidi R. Kling’s Sea, L.K. Madigan’s The Mermaid’s Mirror and Amanda Howells’s The Summer of Skinny-Dipping, Moonglass uses ocean imagery to tackle difficult issues in a young girl’s life. Like life, it is both beautiful and cruel. Anna and her father still have not dealt with her mother’s death when Anna was only seven years old. Was it an accident? Did she kill herself? And who is to blame, if anyone? The theme of blame comes up with a number of characters, and each must first find out the truth, and then decide how to process it and move on.
In the meantime, Anna begins to realize just how much she doesn’t know about her mother. It seems odd, but perhaps it’s her coping mechanism — to ignore her legacy in hopes that she’ll just go away. She doesn’t. Every walk on the beach brings her closer and closer until finally, Anna learns the truth, which isn’t nearly as painful as the misplaced guilt Anna has been carrying around for years.
As the puzzle pieces of her mother’s life and death start to come together — in the right order this time — Anna and her dad take major steps in the healing process. Both breathtaking and heart-rending, Moonglass is a perfect summer read and I look forward to more from author Jessi Kirby.