Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Posted by Simcha 8:28 PM, under | 4 comments

    "Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

I don't read a lot of contemporary YA books anymore. Most of them just depress me, reminding me of all those awkward high school moments that I never had any desire to relive. Others portray a high school experience so different from my own that I have a hard time connecting to the characters or the story. But now and then I come across a YA book that truly delights and entertains me, as was the case with Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon.

Lucy Dervish has given on teenage boys and dating, ever since the disastrous date in which the boy she had such high hopes for tried to feel her up, and she punched him in the nose. But Lucy knows that with Shadow it will be different. A boy who can create such meaningful and moving art on the city's walls has to be someone special, someone who will really understand her. Unfortunately Lucy hasn't had much luck at identifying the elusive Shadow who has successfully evaded all of her efforts to track him down.

“Let me meet.... Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers. A guy who paints things like that is a guy I could fall for. Really fall for”

But Lucy's big break finally comes on the last night of her Senior year when three guys claiming to know Shadow offer to take her and her friends, Jazz and Daisy, to meet him. Lucy has no real desire to traipse around the city with Ed, of the wandering hands and bloody nose, but if it means she'll get to meet Shadow then she'll make the sacrifice. Ed isn't too enthusiastic about reuniting with Lucy either but his friend Leo is interested in getting to know Jazz , and so he insists they at least make a show of it. And Dylan, the third member of the trio, wants the chance to win back Daisy's affection and so he pushes Ed to agree. The only problem is that Ed himself is Shadow and he has no idea how he is supposed to spend the next few hours pretend to be searching for himself, especially for a girl that he has such mixed feelings about. There is also something else that Ed and his friends have to do later that night, something that could cause Lucy to hate him, if she found out about it.

Graffiti Moon is told in alternating narratives by both Ed and Lucy with occasional snippets of poetry from Leo, who also moonlights as Shadow's partner-in-crime, Poet. As Ed and Lucy spend the night searching the city for Shadow they slowly come to discover that the assumptions they had about each other may not have been correct and they may have more in common then either had expected. Through each of their POV's we learn about their backgrounds and personalities and we come to see how perfect Lucy and Ed are for each other and hope that they discover this for themselves before it's too late.

I've always been drawn to slightly off-beat personalities, both in books and in real life, and so the characters in Graffiti Moon quickly gained my interest and affection. Ed is a high school dropout who expresses his desires and emotions through the graffiti art that he decorates that city walls with. While words elude Ed, Leo's thought and feelings are brought to the surface through his poetry which accompanies each of his friend's artwork. The two friends have stood by each other's side through many challenges and before this night is out they will be forced to do so once again.

Lucy is an artist and a romantic who believes that Shadow is the guy she has always been waiting for. With the urging of her friends she decides to take the opportunity provided her to finally find Shadow, but in a night full of surprises she'll be forced to decide if shadow is really  the guy that she wants, while also contemplating her parent's complicated relationship and what her role in it is.

Graffiti Moon's narrative style and colorful characters reminded me a lot of two other YA books that I really enjoyed, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and Nick &  Norah's Infinite Playlist. But this book has a bit more weight to it due to some of the underlying issues that characters of the story are dealing with, from learning disabilities and self-doubt to  divorce and poverty. And in the course of the night each of the characters will have to decide how to respond to the challenges that they are dealing with and in which direction they want to continue going.

I just want to make a final comment about the writing itself, which I found to be descriptive and lyrical. I really enjoyed Crowly's vivid descriptions of the graffiti, which gave me a new appreciation for an art form that I had never really thought much about before. I also enjoyed reading about Lucy's glass creations, which weren't as much of a focus as the graffiti but was still of much interest to me since I've always wanted to learn more about glass blowing.

While I'm still not a big fan of the angsty YA books that are being churned out these days Graffiti Moon has convinced me that I shouldn't yet give up on the genre and that it may surprise me with an occasional gem, like this one.


I'm with you on the whole high school thing. Hated it except for any time spent with my best friend. I'm not sure if I'd ever want to read a book that accurately reflected my own experience - that would be depressing, I think.

I love the premise of this book though. I think at that age, kids get pigeon-holed into being a specific type and like Ed and Lucy, perhaps they have trouble being their true selves.

Stephanie: I didn't hate high school but I definitely had some embarrassing moments that I wish I could go back and erase, and which I don't need to be reminded of by these books.

You and me both, angsty YA books makes me put my head in the sand and scream lalalala

But if you say not to give up...

Wow. I know you haven't been reading YA, and to have this wonderful of a review.. definitely a great sounding one. :) Thank you!

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