I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley
Published by Blink on October 9th 2012
Genres: Christian, Emotions & Feelings, General, Religious, Social Themes, Young Adult
When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor's pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom's latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.
When I finished this book I felt sorta lost in the sea of what do I do now. I felt myself falling into the story and the characters right from the beginning. I was invested in the story. I lost a little bit of that along the way but I didn’t lose the feelings. I was struggling between a 4 or a 5 for the star review. I actually didn’t give a star rating on Goodreads when I marked it complete. I was just so torn. And they don’t let me pick half stars. I need to start a petition or a protest or something. Sometimes you need a half star. Before you really dig into my random thoughts on this book there’s a few warnings I want to throw your way. This is a Christian fiction young adult book. However, as we know even Christian kids (and many in this book are not) aren’t perfect. There are parties that involve underage drinking. There are parties that involve some making out (not graphic). There is a lot of crushing. There is talk of drug use, drug abuse, and even drug overdose (not graphic). Some readers may be offended by this. This book also talks about suicide. It’s a real thing in real life that is completed by a real character in this book. This is a book about bullying and the after affects of being bullied. It’s a real think in real life that is a big part of a real character’s life in this book. Some readers may be triggered by this.
All of that being said, I was shocked to learn this was a debut novel. It was so very well written and a great addition to the idea of Christian fiction for a targeted young adult audience. The Christian overtones of this book are meaningful yet subtle, opening the audience for even teens that are not specifically reading Christian fiction. It’s subtle enough to draw in mainstream readers yet profound enough to be a great tool to reach a mainstream audience. All of that aside I’m going to try to share with you the reasons this book isn’t a full-fledged gushy 5 star review. The story dragged along for me about halfway through. The characters were so well developed that I was in their thought processes and emotions. Missy’s life in 7th grade was miserable thanks to a few well placed insults that grew their own lives and tortured hers. The class bully found her a wanting target and used it for all she was worth. Missy was fortunate to move away from all of that, we don’t know her life where she moved, but she moved back to the same house on the same block in the same school a few years later, now a junior in high school. The same fears, the same insecurities, the same bully was still living down the street, on her school bus, and in her classes. Missy had changed, life had changed, and the bullying changed. Her nemesis tried to start back up and failed. Missy had changed but she couldn’t move past the old hurts and memories. To the point that the story started to drag a bit. The same insecurities over and over. The same need for reassurance from her same best friend. I mean I get it, we all have things that eat at our soul and rob our sense of self and even security. We all have haunts that we measure all new information against. Just in fiction, it becomes bogging.
There is more. The first chapter introduces an idea that plays out near the end of the story. It creates a foundation that you expect to find a conclusion in. It sets the stage but when it comes back to play in the last chapter (the way it’s done is pretty cool by the way!) it’s not what you think it is. It works in a sideways way but it’s also a bit awkward. Just a spoiler-esque moment, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Which goes along with the trigger warning I provided above. I was frustrated with the way the character who completed suicide was handled. I get that frequently the people around the now gone person are taken off guard and ‘never saw it coming’ so to speak. However, with hindsight most people close to the person can pinpoint things that were missed before. There was the start of a foundation that seemed to try to be laid leading up to this character’s death but it wasn’t a solid foundation. And afterward? Outside of one moment there’s no great hindsight to latch on to. No great self-imposed guilt trip that survivors cling to. One moment. OK, there was a lot of blame to shed in anger but no solid foundation to hinge it together.
I know I spent a lot of time on those frustrations but they are really minor compared to such developed people that were living and breathing within the moment as I shared in their story. A story-line that is at least as old as I am in a new generation with new triggers but the same old outcomes. Drinking. Drugs. Sneaking out. Making out. Running around. Feeling inadequate. Looking for acceptance. Looking for love. It’s all things we have all known. We’ve not done them all (at least I haven’t) but we know people who have. This book takes the essence of what it’s like to be a teenager in the hard world of trying to find our space. A space where we feel accepted (by ourselves and others) and can succeed. This book takes nuggets of faith and infuses them into a world of secular. I would easily recommend this book for most any young adult that just needs a reminder that everyone struggles with self-acceptance, peer acceptance, and even finding our niche in this world.