Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. Currently Available.
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Face Value: I actually listened to the audio book of this one, so I didn’t spend as much time with the cover as I usually might, but I like it quite a bit – the silhouettes and the colors do a great job of evoking the book’s tone.
Does it Break the Slate? Oooh, yes. It does. This is a romance, straight-up, and it’s a romance in which two people find each other, and fall in love because of who they really are. Both of our protagonists are flawed, tough individuals, who are trying to figure out who they are, and, by the end of the book have both figured out a little more through each other.
Who would we give it to? There are so many lovers of YA romance from the likes of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Dessen, and other wonderful writers – they might not originally be drawn to this book, but I think they’d love it. It has all the right romantic elements, with it’s own totally unique spin.
Review: I discovered this book based on a recommendation from the lovely Anna at Verity Books, and upon her encouragement, picked up the audio book from the library. And it was great. What is going on in Australia that produces so many brilliant YA writers?
Anyway, the deal with this one is that it’s the last night of year 12 and Lucy, a glass artist, is planning a night out with her best friend, but what she really wants is to track down Shadow, a graffiti artist who she knows only through his work. Even though she’s never met him, she feels a deep connection, and believes that he has all the things she hasn’t been able to find in guys at school.
Lucy’s narration is told alternately with Ed, who is desperate. He dropped out of school to work, but just lost his job. He and his friends are killing time before they do something really stupid (robbing the school) and they meet up with Lucy and her friends. Thanks to a disastrous date years earlier, Lucy and Ed want nothing to do with each other, but when chemistry sparks between their friends, they’re stuck.
Ed, of course, is Shadow. We know that right away, so I’m not spoiling anything for you, but Lucy sure doesn’t know, and watching these two fall for each other over the course of a night is heart-poundingly fantastic.
The alternating points of view result in two really well developed characters: both flawed, smart, creative and a little bit lost. They’re clearly well suited to each other, but Crowley doesn’t make things too easy for them. The relationship shifts from discomfort to connection and back again over the course of the book. And when they finally do come together, it’s on equal terms. This isn’t a book about a fangirl finally finding love with the artist she’s fantasized about. This is a book about two people – two artists – who fall for each other despite a whole host of weird circumstances.
Art, and the act of creating, is at the core of this book, even more than the romance. Before they fall in love with each other, these characters are both in love with the feeling they get when they make something, when their hands are responsible for creating something beautiful, or strange, or impactful. Whether or not you are an artist, I think it would be hard not to be swept up in the way both of these characters experience the creative process. I love the way Crowley writes about art, whether it’s from Ed’s point of view:
“I spray the sky fast. Eyes ahead and behind. Looking for cops. Looking for anyone I don’t want to be here. Paint sails and the things that kick in my head scream from can to brick. See this, see this. See me emptied onto a wall.”
“If you treat glass right, it doesn’t crack. If you know the properties, you can make things; the color of dusk and night and love.
The characters are wonderful, the language is exquisite, and the overall feeling is a work of art in and of itself. I can’t recommend this beautifully crafted book strongly enough.
Reviewed from library copy.