Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Keeping the Moon

Keeping the Moon

Sarah Dessen
For ages 14 and up
Penguin, 2004   ISBN: 978-0142401767

Not that long ago Colie Sparks was forty-five pounds heavier than she is now. She spent all of her early childhood being tormented because she was “fat.” She was miserable, but at least she wasn’t alone. Her mother was also overweight, and the two of them travelled around the country living off junk food, a rootless pair who had each other. Now Colie’s mother has turned herself into Kiki Sparks, the fitness queen who is thin, strong, and enormously successful. Colie is also thin and fit, but she is a misfit. She is still bullied by the popular girls are school, and her response has been to become rebellious and angry. She may be thin now, but the ghost of her persecuted fat self remains.

Colie is not best pleased when her mother - who has to do a European Tour for her business - sends Colie to spend the summer with her aunt in Colby, North Carolina. Aunt Mira is happily weird. She is overweight, rides a bicycle around town, and is sneered at or laughed at by almost everyone. Colie is ready to have a miserable time when she meets Isabel and Morgan, two girls who live next door to Aunt Mira and who work at a local café. The girls invite Colie to work at the café and she accepts. After all, it isn’t as if she has any friends in Colby, so she might as well work.

While Morgan is a sweet and easy-going young woman, Isabel is prickly and sometimes she is incredibly mean. The strange thing is that she is the one who best seems understands how Colie is feeling. Without any fuss, Isabel gives Colie a makeover, and she also tells the girl to hold her head high and believe in herself. Oh sure, it is easy for Isabel to say these things. She is beautiful and confident, and strong. She is all the things Colie isn’t. Right? Or, is Isabel right? Could it be that Colie can be like Isabel if she believes that she too is beautiful and strong.

Growing up can be a very painful experience. All too often those who the most vulnerable are the ones who are teased and bullied. After a time this kind of treatment sucks the confidence out of a young person, making him or her feel worthless and defenseless. This powerful and empowering novel explores the idea that we are all beautiful, and that we can all have courage and strength if we believe in ourselves. Full of wisdom and sensitivity, this book truly gets inside the mind and heart of a young woman who is looking for answers.