THE MOONSTONES by Jean Thesman


Age Range: 11 - 13
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A contrived romance/mystery with an anticlimactic ending and exaggerated, two-dimensional characters. Coming into a small Pacific coast town to help close her deceased grandmother’s house, Jane Douglas glimpses a gray-eyed boy, and can’t get him out of her mind. She throws sensibility to the winds and joins her brassy, malicious cousin Ricki in sneaking out at night to meet him at a shabby local amusement park, where she learns that his name is Carey, and that he’s just as fascinated by her. By day, Jane watches in puzzlement as her mother, Abby, is manipulated and insulted by Ricki’s shrill, selfish mother, Norma. Thesman pumps suspense into the story with hints of a skeleton in the family closet, odd behavior, threats open and veiled, enigmatic undertones, and ominous parallels between past and present events, but none of it comes to much. When Jane’s anger at Ricki and Norma outweighs her desire to see Carey, she hustles her mother away, headed for home. Romance-minded readers will sigh over Jane’s and Carey’s moonlight trysts, but the relentlessly hateful behavior of Norma and Ricki turns them into caricatures, and the Douglas’s escape leaves all the carefully produced tension unreleased. It’s a step back for Thesman (The Storyteller’s Daughter, 1997, etc.), who shows better skills and a surer hand with character in all her previous novels. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-670-87959-2
Page count: 159pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1998


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