Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Blow Out the Moon

I don't know if any of you are this way, but I have a constant backlog of books I have been meaning to read. I keep lists of them in my office, jot them down on scraps of paper in my bag, borrow them from friends and libraries, then accrue massive late fines as I put them down to finish something else. Seriously, I just paid my neighborhood public library $19 for my last batch. Basically I am a slow, but ambitious reader. And I do mean slow. It was always a problem in school, I could never finish a book in time. I have a good attention span, so that is not the problem, its just that I get caught up in all the detail... I think and think about every sentence, turn it over in my head a few times before reading on...

That said, it is no excuse for why I haven't read my friend Libby's book Blow Out the Moon until now. I've know her for 2 years and it has taken me that long to sit down with it. For that I owe her a huge apology hope she will forgive me!! I've had it for ages, even had her sign it, but not had or made the time.

Anyways, now I have (better late than never), and it is FANTASTIC! I am going to have to sing its praises on this blog in the hopes that everyone who has not yet picked it up will run out to their bookstores and libraries... because it is so worth reading! I am absolutely in love with it- I don't think I've fully understood til now how much Libby really has retained all the best qualities of childhood, as she so perfectly articulates them in her writing. There were so many moments I read a passage and remembered instantly feeling that way when I was a kid, though I had completely forgotten it.

The best thing about this book is that it is written completely from a child's perspective. So many things that are important to children, events that are big and looming to them (though not always to adults) are recorded just as a kid would view them, and delivered as though your best friend was confiding to you on the playground. They are delivered lightly and delicately, as the story builds on itself. The little photos sprinkled around the chapters were fascinating as well- getting to see the real life characters and all their little things made me feel like I was getting to peek inside a secret world.

I will stop so I don't completely embarrass you Libby. Every so often I am struck by how lucky I am to have such talented friends!


alvinaling said...

Wow, Anna, reading this almost made me cry, I can only imagine how it will make Libby feel. It was like how we felt when we read the wonderful review from Education Oasis and the star from Booklist--knowing that there were other readers out there who "got" it--who experienced the book as it was intended to be experienced. It doesn't happen all the time. Thank you for this, Anna. And thank you for writing the beautiful book, Libby!

Anna Alter said...

Alvina! I wanted to praise you too, for editing the book so perfectly, but I thought I would save that for a different day. Though it doesn't seem right not to mention you here, since I could feel your presence in the book too. Nothing was overstated or underplayed, you could tell there was an observant, sensitive invisible hand.

Grace Lin said...

ditto! I love Blow Out the Moon! It's so great, completely captures a child's perspective and inspiration for my own writing.

And I love how Libby still have the teacups and teapots that I thought she had broken in the book...

Libby Koponen said...

I just read this and (of course) I am crying. Thank you, Anna, and thank you Alvina -- and you're right, it does remind me of when we first read that review and realized that someone else -- someone besides us -- got it. But this means more,much more, because Anna is my friend (and for another reason too: read on!).

It is a strange modern world, to be communicating this to a friend AND to everyone else out there --but that is what writers and artists do: blab things out, put ourselves and our feelings out there, sometimes appropriately and sometimes not. It is our strength and our weakness.

So here goes: I thought Anna didn't like my book. (I knew she had started it.) In the usual artist's way -- written down, this sounds crazy, but it's true -- I thought that the book was boring and not as good as I had thought it was!

Boy, was that hard to write.

But as it turns out, Anna DID like the book -- and this seems tied to Grace's blog yesterday in ways I can't articulate right now. They have to do with all the ways we artists are NOT Zen, the ways we create stories (not stories on paper but stories in our heads to punish and berate ourselves).

Thank you, Anna. I am glad you are my friend. And *I* will blog about our friend Alvina next week (tomorrow is for those beginnings). You are right about her observant sensitive invisible hand. I am so lucky to have such friends!

Anna Alter said...

Oh no Libby, I can't believe you thought that! I was quiet when everyone talked about it before because I was embarrissed I hadn't read it yet. And then when I started it a little while ago I had already started 2 other books... and as I said I am SO slow.

But this weekend it was sunny and beautiful out, so I took your book to the pond and read it in two days (finishing today at breakfast)- a record for me!

Anonymous said...

I love eavesdropping on the Blue Rose Girls' conversations, and I feel awkward interrupting here. But I must tell Libby, too, how much my children and I loved Blow Out the Moon. (I even mentioned it in my blog last month.) When we started getting to the end we slowed down to make it last. But Libby's name still comes up often. Just this morning my girls were laughing again about the crunchy, snotty hankerchief!

It was a fabulous book, Libby. I know we'll be reading again.

Anna Alter said...

Please chime in anytime Jennifer, we love hearing other people's comments!