My first Way Back Review is for Two Moons In August by Martha Brooks.
I first read this book the summer before my freshman year in high school. Things around the house were tense. I didn't notice it at first, maybe because I was too wrapped up in Sidonie's world. In a few months I would learn the cause of the tension, and it would change my life forever. After this life changing event I'll turn to this book on several occasions to make it through the uncomfortable realizations about my parents.
Here's the blurb for Two Moons:
A year after her mother’s death, 16-year-old Sidonie and her family are still dealing with their tragic loss in different ways. Sidonie spends sleepless nights playing cards with her cat, Bogie. During the day she lies around and reads under the nose of her 19-year-old sister, Roberta, who angrily scrubs floors that are already clean and cooks meals that are inedible. Their father, a doctor, comes home only when he is too exhausted to remain at work. Only the jazz piano-playing of Roberta’s new boyfriend, Phil, brings some relief to the long, hot summer. Then Kieran, a 16-year-old stranger, comes to their lakeside community. Sidonie discovers that Kieran isn’t easy to ignore, and in the weeks that follow, her growing attraction to him is accompanied by more frequent, powerful memories of her mother.
One reason I love this book so much is because of the family dynamics, whether between Sidonie and her sister or her dad or her sister and dad. There's a lot going on in this short book. To be honest, I did have a wee bit of a crush on the love interest of this book, Kieran. it may have been my first literary crush.
Brooks subtly wove in the town's reaction to Roberta and Phil's romance, without being blatant about the racism back in the 50s. Though it was an important aspect to the story, it didn't overpower the other story lines. Roberta and Sidonie have what you would assume most sisterly relationships are like. They love each other, but that doesn't mean they always like each other. Both are dealing with their mother's death in their own way, and that at times causes a rift between them. Then there's their dad, who is gone so often you have to wonder what he's running from. And of course Kieran has plenty of secrets and drama in his own life.
If you're looking for a story about overcoming grief, family dysfunctions, and first loves, this one is for you. Looking at my own stories now, I realize just how much this story has influenced my writing. It shaped certain of view of the world, and helped me deal with the issues taking place in my life. And for that I could never thank the author enough.