Published by Random House Childrens Books on December 26th, 2012
Genres: contemporary, young adult
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Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.
So, this is embarrassing, but I have to admit it: I picked up Graffiti Moon for one reason only: its size. This Aussie title is incredibly short, under 300 pages in fact, and I have some catching up to do if I wanted to complete my 2014 reading challenge. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from this book, but it was so much better than I could have accounted for. I’m slowly learning that there’s a reason why all my friends love their Australian authors.
Graffiti Moon spans the course of a single night, following a group of kids as they celebrate their graduation. The girls – Daisy, Jazz, and Lucy – are just looking for excitement (and for Lucy, excitement means tracking down the graffiti artist known as Shadow.) The boys – Dylan, Leo, and Ed – are looking to kill time before they perform some dangerous criminal activity later on in the night. These characters are exactly the kinds of characters I like reading about. These friends are sort of a mixed bag – they’re all a little different, but they all have such great chemistry together. And they’re all outgoing and mostly popular, so there’s a bright cast of side characters to get to know as well. Their interactions start off slow and tense – and its made doubly wonderful because Ed and Leo are the artists Lucy is tracking down; they know it, we know it, and their friends know it, but Lucy doesn’t and it adds this awesome layer of hilarity and friction. (This is my new favorite thing.) By the end of the night, though, we come to know each of these characters as friends. Ed is more than just the drop out graffiti artist; Leo is more than just an enormous brute; Jazz is made more vulnerable than the outgoing vivacious “psychic” she tries to be. And Lucy… Lucy learns so much about herself and the way she interacts with others. Her growth and her arc are so moving, I was crying at the end.
Another thing to mention about this book is Cath Crowley’s gorgeous writing. Honestly, the entire book is quotable. She has this lyrical prose that I find so compelling – I’d read only that kind of prose for the rest of my life if it were possible. But instead of being stuffy and pretentious, the writing was engaging and accessible and beautiful. Have you ever had to just put the book down and take a breath because of how perfect the writing is? Well, that was me when reading this book. Over and over again I had to reread passages or just sit and bask in it for a little while and let it sink in.
I want to run right into Shadow and let the force spill our thoughts so we can pick each other up and pass each other back like piles of shiny stones.
“Do not leave me here alone,” I tell her, and we laugh, and in the dark she could be a different girl and I could be a different guy. We could be two people swimming through painted music.
There was no skin on my voice and she heard the bones in my words.
Are you a contemporary reader? Do you love Melina Marchetta, Jandy Nelson, or even Laurie Halse Anderson? You need to read Graffiti Moon. Lucy and Ed spring out from the page and into your life like people you have always known. Cath Crowley’s gorgeous writing brings to life these vivid characters you will want to visit again and again.