Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Martha Brooks’ Two Moons in August (1990)

“There were two moons last August — one that was almost full at the beginning when Mom was alive and our lives were normal, and then a big full cheater moon at the end, one that looked down so beautifully on the world when everything was awful and changed and never would be the same again.”

Groundwood Books, 1991 (via House of Anansi)

First, everything is normal.

Then, everything is changed.

It’s that simple and that complicated.

“When she was dying, I hugged myself and wanted to die, too. I wanted her back again. I wanted her arms around me. I wished for it so hard that I actually thought I could feel her arms come from behind. She squeezed so hard it almost took my breath away.”

That simple.

And complicated.

Sidonie is 16 years old in 1959, growing up in Bison Valley.

Home is a small lakeside town which houses a TB sanatorium, in which Sidonie’s father is a doctor.

Kieran’s mother is a doctor as well, and he, like Sidonie, is sixteen years old.

He has been living in Toronto with his father; nobody yet knows the whole story about his arrival.

Kieran doesn’t know the whole story about Sidonie’s family either, about her sister, Bobbi, who is nineteen-years-old and home from university, or about her father, who is still struggling to balance parenting with grieving and living, or about her mother’s death.

But the community is small; the children with TB are treated in the city, so the patients are all older, and the only young people are the children of the staff; inevitably, Kieran and Sidonie are drawn together.

“‘Friends?’
‘I don’t have one. Never have had one. Not somebody I could really talk to. Why not be friends?’
“It wouldn’t work,’ he says, sitting up again.
‘Where’s the rule that says we can’t be friends?’ I say desperately. ‘Who else are you going to talk to here…?’”

Sidonie, understandably, has felt isolated.

Her father spends ever-longer days at the office, and her relationship with Bobbi has been fractured by their mother’s death. “I can’t even make her fight with me. So much for sisterly communication.”

She spends a lot of time reading (including Anne of Green Gables, seven times, which automatically wins this reader’s heart, even with just a single reading) until she gets to know Kieran.

“(Last month I read Anna Karenina, which was Mom’s favourite book. I’ll never forget the first line: ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’”)

All the books that Sidonie reads are books that many people choose to re-read; Two Moons in August has the same feel to it.

Project Notes:
Day 43 of 45:
Reading Two Moons in August reminds me of the way that I felt discovering Cynthia Voigt’s Tillerman novels; I’m positive that I would have re-read Brooks’ novel if I’d discovered it as a young reader, and I might, yet, as is. Having this volume to dip into, alongside more challenging fare (like tomorrow’s book), was a treat.

4 comments to Martha Brooks’ Two Moons in August (1990)

  • This sounds like something I’d like to add to my reading pile – a break between some of the ‘heavier’ stuff.

  • I’ve read and enjoyed some of Martha Brooks’ works, but not this one. It sounds like something I would have enjoyed as a teen — and you are right, the mention of other books like Anne makes this appealing.

  • I loved the quote at the beginning of the review, it grabbed my interest, but it being a YA book has me wanting to hang back from this one a bit. It sounds like it has some good qualities to it, but I wonder if its my cup of tea.

  • Debbie – I bet you’d enjoy this one a great deal for the historical setting and the relationships therein.

    Melwyk – I’ve got to add some of her others to my list. Let me know if there are certain ones you would recommend!

    Jules – I think you might like this one; it would obviously be well received by YA readers, too, and the language is quite straight-forward, but the emotional impact of the story is more substantial than you might guess.

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