Book review: Moon at Nine, by Deborah Ellis

Moon at NineEllis, Deborah. Moon at Nine. Pajama Press, 2014. $19.95. 223p. HC. 9781927485576.

Teenager Farrin distances herself from her classmates at her school in Tehran, Iran, per her mother’s command. It is 1988, and her mother believes their wealthy family is of a higher social standing than the other girls at the school. Farrin’s world changes, however, when smart, kind, spirited Sadira enrolls in Farrin’s school. They become fast friends and slowly open up to each other, finding themselves developing a deeper relationship. Although Farrin is familiar with a world where everyone has secrets, she knows that her and Sadira’s love for each other may be the most dangerous secret of all.

Although Moon starts slowly, readers won’t be able to put it down after the halfway mark: a major conflict moves the narrative along at a breakneck pace until the end. Conflict drives the story throughout and tackles personal problems, such as dealing with mean girls at school and arguing with parents, to much larger issues such as torture, imprisonment, and execution. This is Farrin’s story, and she is a dynamic character, easy to become invested in. Love-interest Sadira is likable, although a little too perfect. Most secondary characters are fairly one-dimensional and portrayed as either good or bad.

Despite gruesome scenes, the book is not overly graphic. Its appeal for older teens may extend to adults, especially those with prior knowledge of the setting. The book club guide at the end makes Moon, based on a true story, a strong possibility for group discussion. Also included are author notes and resources on LGBT rights in Iran. Moon at Nine is a valuable addition to teen collections because it provides a view of gay rights in a different country and time period.

Reviewer: Jenna Goodall
Youth Services Librarian, Deerfield (IL) Public Library

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