All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

on April 20, 2020

Serious Moonlight 
Jenn Bennett
Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
2019, 432p
Read via Scribd

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Raised in isolation and home-schooled by her strict grandparents, the only experience Birdie has had of the outside world is through her favourite crime books. But everything changes when she takes a summer job working the night shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

There she meets Daniel Aoki, the hotel’s charismatic driver, and together they stumble upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—is secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell, and in doing so, realize that the most confounding mystery of all may just be her growing feelings for Daniel.

A few years ago, Jenn Bennett cemented herself as one of my favourite YA contemporary authors with Alex Approximately. Since then I’ve read a handful of her books and enjoyed them all but I knew there were a couple more floating around that I had missed. I spotted this one yesterday, which was only released last year and it was the perfect read after lots of fantasy and some heavier adult books focusing on war and times of poverty and violence. I wanted something lighter and with a strong element of romance and this delivered exactly what I was looking for.

Birdie had an unusual upbringing – raised by her single mother for the first 10 years of her life and then after her mother’s untimely death, she was taken in by her grandparents, who had been estranged from her mother after her mother’s teen pregnancy. Birdie’s grandmother was very strict and they lived on an island in Washington state, reachable by ferry. Birdie was homeschooled and had few friends. When her grandmother also passed away, her grandfather relaxed the rules, allowing Birdie to get a job and experience things for the first time since she was a child. The job she gets is a sort of receptionist job overnight at a hotel and to her surprise, the boy she met a short time ago and did something very out of character with, also works there.

This was so cute and a lot of fun. I really enjoyed Birdie and her desire to spread her wings. Even though she’s experiencing more freedom than she maybe ever has in her whole life, she’s also still dealing with quite a lot of grief – she’s still affected by the death of her mother, when she was about 10 and then six months ago, her grandmother died. Two of the formative women in her life. Birdie no longer has to fight for her freedom, it’s being given quite willingly by her grandfather, who obviously has a lot of regret over the way things were handled with his own daughter, Birdie’s mother when she was about Birdie’s age. Birdie is also dealing with a potential lifelong hereditary illness and the reappearance of Daniel Aoki in her life, the boy she met and lost her head with, has her very confused. Daniel wants to talk about things but for Birdie, it’s best to just put it behind them, forget it ever happened. And so Daniel suggests they team up to solve a mystery – and Birdie loves mysteries, so she can’t resist the temptation to be involved in a real life one.

Birdie is such a fun character to be in the head of, she’s really experiencing a lot of new things all at once. She’s learning to stretch her wings – her job is an overnight shift, so that requires getting there and back via ferry, due to where she lives. I really enjoyed her interactions with Daniel, who is supremely adorable in almost every way. He’s Japanese-American, also raised by a single mother with a father that has never been in the picture, much like Birdie, so they have that in common. Daniel has a really interesting home life, it’s a bit unusual and he also has a bit of a hidden side, something in his past that he hasn’t yet confided in Birdie about. It was actually quite serious and I appreciated the way that played out and the way that Daniel was about it. Birdie also has some very conflicted feelings about it, which also felt very realistic. They have a very sweet chemistry but they’re also two teenagers exploring a physical attraction too.

Birdie loves mystery novels (I think Jenn Bennett is an older movie buff, Alex Approximately references a lot of classic movies and this book also does too, like The Thin Man) and so Daniel ‘woos’ her by asking her to help him solve the mystery of a guest checking into the hotel regularly but for short periods of time. I thought that was quite fun, it gave them a chance to spend time together that wasn’t at work and Daniel worked quite hard to move past Birdie’s embarrassment of what they’d done the first time they’d met. She’s a bit innocent, so I’m not sure she really sees why Daniel wants to spend so much time with her but it’s so so cute. I guessed the mystery a little before it was revealed and I think it played out well.

Another enjoyable contemporary young adult read that I read at the perfect time, it was the sort of book that boosts your mood, makes you feel good about life. And at the moment, I needed that!

8/10

Book #70 of 2020


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