Saturday, October 24, 2009

Book Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Book: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Author: Grace Lin
Published: 2009
Source: Local Library

Every day, Minli works alongside her parents, ekeing out handfuls of rice from the dry, stubborn soil in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain. But every night, her Ba tells marvelous stories. Minli knows her parents work hard with what they have, but she dreams of better for them and for herself. With this in mind, she sets out on an impossible quest to find the Old Man of the Moon from her father's stories and ask him what she can do to change her fortune.

As she journeys through a China-like land, she meets and befriends all manner of creatures with a little magic about them. A talking goldfish, a dragon who can't fly, a king who enjoys going in disguise among his own people. It's Minli's wit and compassion that bring her finally to the Old Man in the Moon. But can even he give her what she wants most of all?

This whole book has a folk-tale air about it, even aside from the magical characters and coincidences. Minli's quest--and how it's wrapped up--echoes stories from before written print. Stories and storytelling weave through the narrative like golden threads. Most of the chapters include a story told by one character to another, often about the Old Man in the Moon or the wicked Magistrate Tiger. The reader with a strong memory will start putting together the pieces of this complex mythology, and delight in how it all ties into the main story by the end.

Strangely enough for a book that prizes family, this novel is filled with disobedient children, and yet their disobedience is all for the sake of the family. It's a neat trick, and one that upends expectations.

Try out Where the Mountain Meets the Moon for a captivating tale about the power of story and the love of family.

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