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Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

The Girl Who Chased the Moon: A Novel by Sarah Addison Allen
Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism
Hardcover (BANTAM, 288 pages, $25.00)
ISBN# 0553807218
Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.
Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes—which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past?
Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

Author Site: www.sarahaddisonallen.com

Whimsical. Charming. Loved it! (5 stars)

Mullaby, North Carolina is home to many mysterious and marvelous wonders so why did Emily Benedict's mother never tell her about this place?

When Emily's mother left Mullaby she didn't look back. When she passed away after years of philanthopic efforts and a straight-laced lifestyle the last thing her orphaned teen daughter expects is to be shipped off to live with her grandfather in North Carolina. She's never even heard of the giant, Vance Shelby, or the strange light that flutters about in the woods behind his house. No one will tell her why she's looked on with a mixture of disgust and trepidation, at least not at first. Taken under the wing of her grandfather's neighbor, Julia Winterson, she begins to feel a little welcome until the mystery of why her mother left begins unraveling... and she has to question everything she knew about her mom and everything she's learned about the strange town she grew up in.

RT Book Reviews had an article about this book that sold me on it long before I was offered a chance to review it. It isn't every day that something this whimsical, magical and still substantial comes along. Every character in it plays a significant role and leaves an impression. But the town itself is one of the biggest characters. Every location comes alive through Allen's masterful storytelling. Emily's adventures in Mullaby are bittersweet at times and it wasn't hard to believe her when she painted a different portrait from the one others saw of her mother.

Like others I can't help but liken this story to the film Big Fish. While it's contemporary fiction at its base the magic woven into it gives it the flavor of a tall tale. Julia's cakes and the story behind why she bakes them actually had tears streaming down my cheeks and not many books can pull that off!

If you're looking for a charming, sweet read for a book club I think this would make an excellent selection. It has its sad moments and even some that are a little tense but on the whole it is a story about foregiveness, redemption and the value of keeping secrets. I really, really enjoyed it and hope to try some of Allen's other work in the future.

Other Reviews:
Joanna @ Goodreads
Chel Micheline @ Amazon

Notes: I received this book as an ARC through the Amazon Vine program.

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