Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Have you ever picked up a book that just enchanted you?

I'm currently in the midst of The Girl Who Chased The Moon, and it is such a delightful read! I don't want to put it down! It actually makes me look forward to riding the subway, because that's when I have time to dive into this beautiful book!

It's the story of Emily, a 17-year-old girl who goes to live with her giant grandfather in the fictional small town of Mullaby, North Carolina. And when I say giant, I mean her grandfather is 8 feet tall!

It's a whimsical element that makes me think of the movie Big Fish, and like that fanciful tale, The Girl Who Chased the Moon is full of magic and the uniqueness of perspective.

There's a mysterious wealthy family who can't come out at night. There's a charming baker, Julia, who hides a piece of pink hair behind her ear (from her youth as a punk rocker). She also runs her father's BBQ and has her own story she's trying to piece together. Her refuge is in the cakes she bake that fill the book with such sweet scents. Truly, I swear I could smell Julia's Milky Way cake, or her Hummingbird Cake:

"It was made with bananas and pineapples and pecans and had a cream cheese frosting... She would make it light enough to float away."

I actually bought the book because of the Amazon interview the author gave regarding the giant of her novel:

"I remember when I first wrote elderly Vance Shelby into The Girl Who Chased the Moon. He walked into a room and had to duck under the doorframe. I knew then that this was no ordinary man. This was a giant. But how tall was too tall? When would real become unreal? It’s a fine line. I began to research gigantism and discovered the tallest man in history for whom there is irrefutable medical proof: Robert Pershing Wadlow, the Giant of Illinois. At the time of his death at the young age of 22, Wadlow was almost nine feet tall. It’s a stunning number, isn’t it? Nine feet tall. I pored over old film and audio interviews from the 1930s, trying to get a feel for what his life was like, so I could present with veracity this magically tall man in my story. What I discovered was a soft-spoken gentle giant whose legs were so long he walked like he was on stilts, whose body listed to the side like a skyscraper made of soft wood instead of concrete. But he was always smiling, accepting the stares and the requests for photos good-naturedly as he toured with Ringling Brothers and the International Shoe Company. He never hid himself away. He mingled among regular-sized people like he knew he had to savor every moment. And maybe he did know. Maybe he was tall enough to see into tomorrow.

In honor of Wadlow, I took all that I thought a young giant might wish for--a long life, a wife, a family, a place that accepted him as he was, where he was just another town oddity--and I gave it to elderly Vance Shelby in The Girl Who Chased the Moon. And as an old giant, Vance looks back on a life he always wanted to be extraordinarily small, and finds that it was exactly the size it needed to be. Which I think might be truth for us all."
--Sarah Addison Allen

If you're looking for a lovely book with small-town charm and whiffs of magic, check out this novel.

The author also has an interactive website which details parts of the fictional town of Mullaby and offers Julia's cake recipes! :)


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