Moon­rise

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews -

Sarah Crossan, Blooms­bury (JULY) Soft­cover $17.99 (400pp), 978-1-4088-6781-5

Joe’s big brother Ed left one day in their Aunt Karen’s car, and he never came home. He ended up in Texas, where he pan­icked over be­ing pulled over with­out the car’s reg­is­tra­tion, tried to drive away, and was con­victed of killing an of­fi­cer.

Ed was eigh­teen at the time of his ar­rest, and was sen­tenced to death. Ten years later, Joe has come to Wake­l­ing, Texas, to sup­port his brother as the date of his ex­e­cu­tion ap­proaches. He loves his brother, he be­lieves he is in­no­cent, and he is scared and sad and alone.

Writ­ten en­tirely in verse, Moon­rise is beau­ti­fully told and in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful. Each verse cap­tures a mo­ment in Joe’s life—as he re­mem­bers the brother he loved and looked up to, as he strug­gles to ac­cept the in­evitabil­ity of Ed’s death, and as he works to make the mo­ments he is al­lowed to see Ed mean some­thing. Though the peo­ple of Wake­l­ing are gen­er­ally kind to him, he is iso­lated in his suf­fer­ing, strug­gling to get through an im­pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tion.

The book ex­am­ines im­por­tant eth­i­cal ques­tions about the death penalty. Ed’s guilt is in ques­tion through­out the book, and the pos­si­bil­ity that an in­no­cent per­son will be ex­e­cuted hangs hor­ren­dously over the text. The sit­u­a­tion proves painful for ev­ery­one in­volved, in­clud­ing the guards and the war­den who have learned to like Ed; Ed’s lawyer, who be­lieves in both his client and the sys­tem; and Ed’s fam­ily, who love him. All are high­lighted as vic­tims of a pe­nal sys­tem that can­not and will not con­sider their suf­fer­ing.

Deeply mov­ing and thought­ful, Moon­rise is a chal­leng­ing, po­tent re­minder that there is great in­jus­tice in the jus­tice sys­tem; it ques­tions whether the death penalty is ever a fit­ting pun­ish­ment.

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