Monday, February 6, 2012

Review-Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon
by Cath Crowley
Available February 14th, 2012
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved a mysterious guy she'd never met before. A guy that painted walls in the night with visions she could only imagine until she saw them and she thought she knew him from his paintings from his graffiti art and his name Shadow.  Once upon a time there was a boy, who's father ran out on his pregnant sixteen year old mother and who quit school in the 10th year because he got caught cheating. But the words were his, just not the writing. So he quit and got a job and became a shadow, The Shadow, expressing himself through art saying what he couldn't say in words. And one girl could read what he said.  This is their story.

I highlighted about three quarters of this book, the poetry used to describe the pictures Shadow paints it's just beautiful.  I didn't know graffiti could be so beautiful, so detailed, have so much imagery in it. I'll admit I have a bias towards graffiti, I always see the gangs marking their territories, racial slurs and who loves who.  I've never seen really beautiful graffiti. Or maybe I've never looked for it. But this story it's only about graffiti. It's a coming of age story that happens overnight---a long night---in Australia after everyone, all but one that is graduates from high school.

Everyone has their own issues they are dealing with, Jazz's parents have had her on lock down studying since midterms and they are away in Germany so she's out to have a good time. Daisy wants a new boyfriend after Dylan, her boyfriend of 3 yrs egged her Jazz and Lucy in the head after school today.  And Lucy, she wants to find Shadow because she knows from his paintings they will have everything in common and she has stopped going out since that ill fated date with Ed in tenth year, shortly before he dropped out of school.  It's obvious from the way Ed describes his problems in school that he has a learning disability but Leo has helped him get by until tenth year. Then he got caught pulling an essay out of his pocket and the substitute teacher went bat crazy on him.  It was, I think in Leo's handwriting so rather than get him in trouble, even though it was Ed's words, he quit.  He got a job at a paint store and worked for a man that was a pseudo father and bolstered his self esteem.  But he died and Ed hasn't had a job since then and can't help his mom pay the rent.  

So that's where things are when these six meet.  It's hilarious at times like when the girls are all in the bathroom and  Dylan asks, "What do you think they're talking about in there?" "I'll take a wild guess and say us," Leo tells him.  Then they guys all go the the bathroom and it's been awhile and Lucy asks, "What do you think they're talking about?"  "I'll take a lucky guess," Jazz says, "and say us." (p52 of the ARC).
There are other funny parts but other equally heartbreaking parts. Cath Crowley takes the reader on an exquisitely emotional roller coaster ride.  We are almost at the top about to know it all, or at least Lucy is and then it's snatched away as we plummet down to the bottom of the hill.  And every time it happens it makes it takes them that much further from the truth, from the beginning of something wonderful.  

Even though the events happen over the course of a night, it seems like it is much longer.  Not because the story lags or the pace is slow, but because Ed and Lucy get to know each other so well. The chapters are told alternating between Ed and Lucy and it works really well.  Lucy's idea of love is romance and that's what she thinks Shadow represents, because he understands art and is sensitive according to what she sees.  And for Ed, he sees himself through the eyes of others as a dropout with no future, going nowhere, painting on walls and he sees nothing.  But he and Lucy share their thoughts on Shadow's paintings and art and life throughout the night ans some other adventures.

The writing is beautifully done and easy to read. It's not overly flowery. It's spare  but poetic if that makes sense.                                      

I escaped onto the wall, a painted ghost trapped in a jar. I stood back to look at it and I knew the sad thing wasn't that the ghost was running out of air. The said thing was that he had enough air in that small space to last him a lifetime. What were you thinking little ghost? Letting yourself get trapped like that? p.61 ARC
There's just no other way to say that it's a completely addictive novel.  It was a day and a half read for me but only because I started late in the day.  I loved the writing style, the narration and the characters. I didn't say much about them.  Leo is a man of words, a guy after my own heart, though after this novel, I'm not so sure.  He writes poetry and he's really good.  Again, his poems are spare, but to the point.  They get right to the point. And he's the best friend a guy like Ed could ever ask for. And vice versa. Dylan is a bit stupid.  I think he's smart, he just acts before he thinks, like egging his girlfriend.  But he's a bit more of a secondary character than the others are.  Jazz is a good friend to Lucy. After all, she's the one that gets her into this night and helps her see it through.  And its a night she'll always remember.  And Daisy, well she's a bit like Dylan in the role she plays, just a bit character. There are parents! It runs the gamut from crap to very well meaning and meddlesome. And there are other adults involved in the lives of the characters lives.

There is a very lit bit of swearing an some talk of doing it but that is it.  Use you best judgement.


I was provided an ARC of the through NetGalley from the publisher Knopf Books for Young Readers and Random House. I was in no way compensated for my review.


  1. Glad you enjoyed this one, Heidi. I've heard rave reviews about this one last year and was so excited to read it when it was available on NG. The narration and characters sound great. Can't wait to read this one!

  2. Yummy sounding book, and the poetry too. Might have to see if I can get this at NG too. But I am SO bogged down. You read so quick, but I've actually read three books in a week - thats so quick for me. :) Two were pretty good though and that helps enormously. :) X

  3. YAY! So glad you enjoyed this one Heather, I loved it as well. And we're review twins today:) I just thought it was such a beautiful story, it made me wish I could express my thoughts in graffiti and have them be so stunningly interpreted by someone else as Shadow's work is by Lucy. Loved the humor in it as well, I definitely wasn't expecting it:) Gorgeous review!

  4. Ha!! I missed this on NetGalley - too bad! But... now I have to get it anyway!
    Since I was on Jenny's Blog first today she introduced me to this book, but.. since I came right to your blog afterwards I take your both into account when remembering who introduced me ... (that was a loooong and weird sentence... )

    Anyway, I love your review and you just fueled my wish to read it! The quotes you picked were cute and beautiful! Thanks Heather :))

  5. This one sounds like it has so much depth and is such a beautiful read. I can't imagine highlighting that much of a book. Gotta check it out!

  6. Wow, this sound totally unique. Love "painted ghost trapped in a jar." My visualizer is kicked into high gear with language like that.

  7. Leslie Rose- I know right?! I'm a very visual person and this one gets all those mental pictures up there going. Makes me wish I could paint!

    Alyssa- I was thinking maybe I should just stop and highlight what I didn't want to remember! But the highlighting helped with my review.

    Danny- I'm so glad I drove the point home sort of on Jenny's review, which I have not read, but plan to in just a few. You can't miss this one. You will love it! I have to have the book! I'm finding NetGalley is just finding me a lot of books I have to spend money on!

    Jenny- I'm sure your review is outstanding. I felt this one so much. When the words paint pictures in my head, I just love it. When they go bone deep, it makes me want to make everyone read it! I would like to watch a graffiti artist at work. Probably a youtube video on it.

    Shah- Yes, reading a good book makes all the difference in the world. Being able to immerse yourself in their world and the characters. I do that pretty easily, but when it doesn't click, I know pretty early on and stop.
    Don't force yourself to read something you don't like. But read Graffiti Moon! I think you'll enjoy it. It's contemporary YA, no paranormal, but still a beautiful story.

    O.K. I'm going out on a limb, because I've been reading everyone else reply to you and say Rummanah-
    and hope that's your entire first name! So you didn't get it on NG?
    Doesn't matter, you're going to want to hold this one and own it. I do! It's a funny, beautiful contemporary YA story. If that's what you like, you'll love it. There were a lot of art references that I didn't know because, I'm not that well versed in art, but it didn't hinder my love of their conversations and their appreciation of art!

    Thanks everyone for dropping by and your wonderful comments! I'll be stopping by your blogs soon!


  8. Adding it to my list! I hadn't heard about it until now.

  9. Now I want to be a graffiti artist in my next life. :)

  10. Wow- what a fantastic review! I'm never usually much of a fan of contemporary, but this one has definitely caught my eye!


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