Review Blog

Jul 11 2011

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

cover image

Pan Macmillan, 2010. ISBN: 9780330425780
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. Winner of the 2011 Prime Minister's Award, the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature 2011 and short listed for the CBCA Older Reader's Award, Graffiti Moon is a book not to be missed and should be as widely promoted as possible in libraries and as a class set or literature circle book in schools. A group of teens get together at the end of their HSC. Lucy, a glass blower, thinks that she is in love with Shadow, an unknown graffiti artist. His artworks call to her and she really feels that they would be soul mates. She decides to spend the night trying to find out who he is, but becomes entangled with Ed and his mates. She had gone out on a date with Ed in Year 10, but it ended in disaster when she broke his nose. Meanwhile Dylan and Daisy are a couple, but Daisy is having second thoughts after he egged her on the last day of school. In a gripping 24-hour period the teens get to know each other and themselves, all working out just what they want out of life.
I loved this book and read it virtually in one sitting. I was fortunate to hear Cath Crowley talk about the research she did at night looking at graffiti around Melbourne and talking to people. This insight added to the enjoyment I experienced. It was easy to imagine Shadow painting evocative scenes and his offsider writing the words to go with them. You knew that he wasn't a vandal from the vivid descriptions and ached for him to have a legitimate voice in the art world. Art lovers will also appreciate the many references to artists and exhibitions that Crowley makes.
I also loved the romance in this book. It was never soppy or unrealistic. Crowley described vividly how these young people began to come of age, recognising strengths and weaknesses in each other. The teens spoke with an authentic voice and I could easily imagine each one, facing dilemmas, covering up secrets and hurts and making good and bad decisions.
Crowley tackles some big themes with a soft touch. Dysfunctional families and the plight of kids who must cope without support, the inability to read and what that means for a career are all examined in a low key but very helpful way. While Ed has many problems he was able to attract the attention of sympathetic adults who helped him on his way.
A very satisfying and uplifting story, Graffiti Moon deserves all the accolades that it is getting.
Pat Pledger

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