FIND THE MOON
By Beth Fehlbaum
For as long as she can remember, Kylie Briscoe’s been searching for the moon even though she has no idea why it soothes her. Placed in an impossible situation by her mother, Kylie cries for help. It brings rescuers and a new life, but it feels more like a death sentence when she is separated from her three-year-old sister Aliza, the only person Kylie’s ever really loved.
Beth Fehlbaum is the author of the young adult novels Find the Moon, Big Fat Disaster (on the Spirit of Texas-High School Reading List, 2014-2015), Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience (A YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers), and Truth in Patience. With Dr. Matt E. Jaremko, Beth co-wrote the creative nonfiction book, Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt. She is a high school English teacher.
This book hooked me from the first word to the last. The opening sentence, “This year will monumentally suck.” truly sets the tone for the story. It is told in first person through a teenager’s point of view, and the author did a fabulous job of making it so realistic I felt as though I was reading a true story.
Kylie Briscoe is only a teenager but has a huge responsibility. She does her best to take care of her little sister, Aliza, and protect her from their mother’s haphazard and dangerous lifestyle. With a mother who neglects to provide even the most basic needs for her children and who is immersed deeply in drug addiction, Kylie never knows what she will find at home after school each day.
On the day the book opens, she finds Aliza in the trailer home alone. At four, she shouldn’t be left alone, but it happens a lot. They find one can of Spaghettios, Aliza’s favorite, and Kylie feeds them. Then the mom shows up on the back of a motorcycle with a guy who is determined to collect what Kylie’s mother owes him for drugs. But it’s too much, and when her mother points to Kylie and says, “her first,” is when Kylie grabs Aliza and bolts.
What happens after that is heart-wrenching as Kylie has to deal with being separated from the one person in the world she loves, Aliza. Kylie is sent to Texas to live with grandparents she doesn’t know, while Aliza is sent to live with the man who is her legal father. The emotional turmoil both children face is powerful and difficult on every level. The wisdom and patience of the grandparents is exactly what it takes. The theme about the moon is scattered throughout the story and is the grandfather’s passion, which he had instilled in Kylie when she was but a toddler. And while Kylie doesn’t remember those days when she lived with them, the connection to the moon is strong. It’s where she finds comfort.
Having worked in Child Protective Services for a number of years, I related to this story on a deeply personal level. The author keeps it authentic, from the believable storyline and realistic dialogue to the failings of the organizations created to protect children and the aftermath issues abused and neglected children face. There is bad language in the story, so if that offends you, it may be a deal breaker. If you are sensitive to rape and child abuse situations, this book may be hard to read. But if you’re looking for a story that will linger with you long after you reach the end, this IS the book for you. I rooted for Kylie, Aliza, the grandparents, and Aliza’s father all the way. Healing will come slowly, but with patience and love, it will come. That is the hope the reader is left with. I give this book four stars and can highly recommend it!