Review: Alabama Moon

Alabama Moon
Alabama Moon by Watt Key
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alabama Moon caught my eye in the store because, well, I live in Alabama and the premise sounded interesting. The story centers around 10-year-old Moon Blake, a boy raised in the forests of Alabama by his government-hating father. Moon’s mother died when he was a baby, shortly after their move off the grid, and after his father has an accident Moon is left on his own with his father’s final instructions: Find your way to Alaska.

It isn’t long before Moon gets thrown into the system and lands in a Tuscaloosa home for juvenile boys. Will Moon be able to cope with having to live in-doors and meeting the outside world for the first time? And will he fulfill his father’s instruction to go to Alaska? Well, I’m not telling you.

Now for some thoughts:
This book is aimed at the young teen/advanced reader crowd, much like Hatchet or Island of the Blue Dolphins. But whereas those books were about young people learning to survive on their own in the wilderness, this is a story about a boy, already fully capable of living on his own, learning to survive in the real world. And while this was written with children in mind, don’t worry, there is plenty here for adult readers to enjoy.

Moon is practically every young boy’s fantasy; no school, no parents, just total freedom from the world. Only Moon is able to realize that living on one’s own isn’t such a great thing if you have no one to share it with. It’s only after escaping from the boys’ home with 2 cohorts that he finds the value in having friends.

Alabama Moon is a short read, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. I liked seeing familiar settings mentioned, as I am a Tuscaloosa resident myself, but that really has no weight on the story. The dialog can be a bit terse at times, but maintains a sense of realism. Honestly, this feels like something you would be assigned as required reading in school, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I say that because if I were to have read this at the age of 10 or 11, I likely would have fond memories of it today, just like Island of the Blue Dolphins.

If you’re looking for a classic-style children’s adventure story, you could do a lot worse than Alabama Moon. I give it a 3 out of 5 because, while I liked the story, I wasn’t terribly moved by it, though there are moments I felt a connection to. It’s good, but not amazing.

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