THE MOON SISTERS by Therese Walsh Took Me On Journey As Reader And As A Writer
by Amy Sue Nathan
I just returned from a weekend “back home” in Philadelphia celebrating different things with different family members, so it’s apropos that today I’m posting my sort-of review of THE MOON SISTERS by Therese Walsh, her newly released novel about family, leaving home, and going home again.
My weekend has left me tired, in a good way, and also feeling a little woozy—a little like I’m processing things in a different way today, maybe like Olivia Moon does in THE MOON SISTERS.
Here’s the Goodreads review I wrote when I was lucky-beyond-lucky to read an ARC of THE MOON SISTERS:
In The Moon Sisters, Therese Walsh paints a vivid picture of an emotional and physical journey for two sisters, Olivia and Jazz, who couldn’t be more different but realize in the end that the things that bind them together—their father, the death of their mother, their home, and eventually the desire to move forward—are more important than anything else. The rich details in this book bring to life a part of the country, West Virginia, that I’ve never visited, but believe I would now recognize. The Moon Sisters has evocative yet playful prose, as well as depth, yet it is not bogged down at any point. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Olivia and Jazz Moon have remained in my thoughts weeks after I finished the book. Actually, I think I may read it again.
All of that is true, and exactly how I feel about the book. One of my favorite things about the book is that playful prose I mention. Therese Walsh is a prose crafter, for sure. The book is accessible, but it’s not simple. I don’t mean it’s hard to read, I mean the writing is truly lovely. And I adore many books where the writing is great, but not necessarily lovely. Does that make any sense? I don’t read books that are difficult to read, and although I struggle when someone says my book is an “easy read” I do know that writing an “easy read” is not easy. When relaying THE MOON SISTERS to others, it means that there is a flow, it kind of takes me along for the journey of Jazz and Olivia and there is no struggle in reading, not at all.
I was still writing my second novel while I was reading and what the author (okay, okay, yes, she’s my friend, I can say that—but I don’t gush unless it’s all true for me about a book) is that by reading THE MOON SISTERS I was encouraged to do two things with my own book: 1) really explore the setting in more detail to make it real for the reader, and 2) experiment with a non-linear addition to my novel (and I do mean experiment, as I am quite the linear gal). I really internalized the way Teri wrote the book and realized that it swept me away to somewhere new and different, in a way I really enjoyed.
Another element of the book that I loved — and that surprised and THRILLED me — was that Olivia Moon has synesthesia. To make a long story short, synesthesia, as noted on a “Neuroscience for Kids” website is this:
Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses such as sight. Another form of synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people’s names with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (perception). Therefore, synesthesia literally means “joined perception.”
You’ll have to read THE MOON SISTERS to really get it, but I will tell you that much to my surprise and subsequent relief, I knew that the fact that I see “a calendar in my head” is actually A THING. It’s a form of synesthesia! So that fact that a calendar exists outside myself (OMG, yes, I am blogging this so everyone who only *thinks* I’m strange will now be utterly sure of it) is not only something that happens to me. It happens with days of the week, months, and years, as if projecting them in front of me. It has been this way as long as I can remember. It has a certain look to it — always the same. Weird, yes. Unique? Not so much. Seems the more people Teri asked about synesthesia, the more people who seemed to have some parts of it. It’s involuntary, so it’s not like making up an acronym to remember your to-do list.
If you don’t experience synesthesia at all, Therese Walsh brings it to life—in living color, so to speak—in THE MOON SISTERS. If you do have it, it’s really fabulous to read it. What else is brought to life in the novel? A sense of adventure, a sisterly bond, grief, and hope for the future. I loved the ending — and when you read the book I’d love to know what you think of the ending. Or if you’ve already read it (no spoilers though) let me know in the comments. THE MOON SISTERS is getting great reviews (even more than just this one of course) and you can find them here: ThereseWalsh.com.
Needless to say (but I’ll do it anyway) I loved THE MOON SISTERS as a reader and a writer. As a friend, I’m so pleased for and proud of my friend.
Here’s a tidbit about Therese, and a photo that captures the essence of the author and her novel:
THERESE WALSH is the author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy and the cofounder of Writer Unboxed. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children. Follow Therese on Twitter and Facebook.