Review Blog

May 13 2013

Joyous and Moonbeam by R. Yaxley

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Omnibus, Sydney, 2013. 169p
(Age: 13+) Joyous and Moonbeam is a heart-warming book narrated by the characters for which it is named. Bracks, Ashleigh's principal, arranges for her to volunteer in Mr Santorini's workshop where she is assigned to Joyous. Joyous is a 30 something man with an intellectual impairment.
Although, Joyous' Yoda-like unconventional speech and his habit of going off on tangents is characteristic of his disability, some would find Joyous and his mother anachronistic. Moonbeam, as Joyous christens Ashleigh, is probably more believable. Her rocky relationships with her family are more complex so we understand her affinity with the 'big guy' in the sheltered workshop who inherited an uncomplicated worldview of 'working things round' from the father he never really knew himself.
Through Joyous and his mother's letters, we discover that Joyous has always had it tough. The same 'badly judged whip around' that killed his father and his aunt, left him with brain damage. Later he is forced to leave his childhood home in the countryside with his mother and cruel step father, Sammy-K and its pretty much all downhill from there.
As we predict, it is Moonbeam who has the most to gain from meeting Joyous. But their problems are just beginning and things tend to get worse before Ashleigh can adopt Joyous' trick of 'working things round'.
Readers able to persevere with Joyous' peculiar expression will savour a story which succeeds at confronting our perceptions about people with disabilities.
Deborah Robins

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