The Moon Sisters
By Therese Walsh. (Crown Publishers, 336 pages, $25.)
Sisters Olivia and Jazz have a typical sibling relationship under anything but typical circumstances. After their mother dies in what appears to be a suicide, the girls pull in opposite directions.
Jazz finds a job in the next town over; she wants to leave behind the family’s bakery business, and in many ways the family itself. Olivia, who found her mother’s body slumped over her typewriter with gas flowing from the oven, has other plans. She wants to visit the setting of her mom’s unfinished novel, hoping to find some peace and answers there.
With their father drowning his sorrows in alcohol and their grandmother trying to keep the bakery afloat, it is up to Jazz to accompany Olivia. Their journey is really one of self-discovery and growth. Mixed in with their narrative are letters written from their mother to her father; these fill in the mother’s story and provide glimpses into her sorrow. The sisters do grow in many ways, individually and together. Their most important lesson is nicely summed up by Jazz near the end: “ ‘I guess we can’t control life, or the people in it. … But we can control ourselves — right now, in this moment. That’s something. Maybe it’s everything.”
Judy Romanowich Smith
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky
By Holly Schindler. (Dial, 230 pages, $16.99, ages 8-12.)
“Old Glory shimmies like she’s dancing the jitterbug.” The narrator, Auggie, opens the book with this description of her grandfather Gus’ trash-hauling truck, named Old Glory. She sees her grandfather as a kind of magician, because he can take old junk and turn it into a “fold of green bills” in his pocket. The almost surreal imagery of “Junction” can be hard going at first, but eventually its purpose blooms: Auggie is a bricoleur, an artist of stuff, a collector of bits and pieces who remakes them into art.
Holly Schindler’s story of people from “the poor side of town” who use trash to remake their disdained properties into fantastic sculptures takes a little time to warm up, because we have to travel some distance to find the center of the place — but the junction of Sunshine and Lucky streets is a real find.