I tend to steer clear of child neglect and abuse in my fiction choices yet there was something about this American author’s debut that had me interested right from the blurb. It begins four years after the neglect of autistic teenager Ginny who has now settled with a “Forever” family . With adopted mum having her first baby and Ginny discovering the whereabouts of her birth mother the uneasy balance topples.
Narrated by Ginny over nearly four months with exact timings (an obsession with time being part of her condition) this is certainly a novel of an outsider attempting to make sense of a world where people are unreliable and use expressions which confuse and bewilder. Ginny, very much the life-breath of Ludwig’s tale, finds herself having to misbehave, adapt the truth and steal in order to put what she believes to be wrong, right. It’s a tale which is both heartwarming and alienating, funny and sad. Ludwig whose motivation was his own adopted autistic teenager clearly shows how the best intentions can be wrongly interpreted with potentially tragic results.
I was captivated by Ginny and her tale, but that does not mean that the reader will not experience frustration nor not be shocked by her challenging behaviour. She does make a superb, flawed narrator. I’m not sure how Harper Collins would want to market this. A Young adult/teen market seems plausible yet like Mark Haddon’s crossover “Curious Incident Of The Dog..” it could work better with our adult experience looking back at what for us all are the bewildering adolescent years, let alone for someone with Ginny’s challenges. This is a strong debut.
Ginny Moon is published in May 2017 by HQ. Many thanks to Real Readers and the publishers for the advance review copy.