Monday, December 19, 2011

REVIEW: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon
by Cath Crowley (blog | website | twitter)
Released: 08.21.2010 (Australia) /will be released: 02.14.2012 (U.S.)
244 pages (AU)/224 (U.S.)
Publishers: Pan Macmillan Australia/Knopf Books for Young Readers
Awards & Recognition: Winner, NSW Premier’s Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature); Winner, Prime Minister’s Literary Award (Young Adult Fiction)
Source: Go Aussie Book Tours @ The Unread Reader
Pre-order it on Kindle | Hardback

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes (from GoodReads).

REVIEW: Every once in a while a book walks in with magic dancing in almost every sentence:

"'Where's the fire, Lucy Dervish?'

In me. Under my skin."

Oh damn, Lucy.  You just made go and miss high school.  I remember that feeling, that one of anticipation, the one you have on a night when anything is possible. 

Right from go, Cath Crowley's language in Graffiti Moon is nothing short of hypnotic.  I haven't seen original descriptions like this in. . .  well, let's just put it this way: I don't think that I have.  You can find quotes you want to write on slips of paper and keep in your pocket for when you need them in almost every chapter.  The language is written in bright colors and secret corners, just like Shadow's art.  The prose is absolutely lyrical and delightful to read.  Do you ever feel like you can reach out and touch a story, like its a painting?  That's Crowley's gift.  You can feel every brush stroke, every painted layer, every single draft as Lucy and Ed breath deep and try to make it through their night together.

The story centers on these two, but it's a six pack as both bring along two sidekicks: Jazz and Daisy for Lucy, Leo and Dylan for Ed.  And, of course, Shadow - we can't forget him - the holy grail of crushes that holds Lucy's heart, and her quest for him is what slides the story along its track, until it Ed forces her off the trail (or did he just help her find another path?).  Early in the night, the two groups inadvertently meet up - Daisy and Dylan are an item, and Jazz has a thing for Leo.  You'd think they'd all be friends, but no, Ed and Lucy are anything but, and Daisy has doubts about Dylan.

Sounds easy, right?  Sounds high school.  Friends, I don't exaggerate when I write that it's so much better than that.  What I particularly like about Crowley's writing is that she incorporates a lot of different versions of love and relationships, of how it changes forms and develops as two people move and grow with each other.  Of how it can become a poison if it's not nurtured and protected, or if it was never really love in the first place.  While primarily a story of two young, talented and wonderful people finding their way through one night with each other, this also is a story that incorporates how families, friends and other loved ones affect us.  The weaving in and out of Ed, Lucy and Leo's narratives is packed with hopeful longing and wistful regret, of certain things viewed in the shadow and then again in the light.

This almost is a perfect book for me.  There is a 'big deal' situation involving Leo, which brings Ed into the fold.  The events leading up to it are well-written, but 'the event' itself felt slightly off to me.  I also was amazed that all six, including the two that came off the least sharp (Daisy and Dylan), seemed so witty.  I kept thinking, "I would have killed to have conversations this good all the time in high school."  As enjoyable as it was, I kept thinking that the perfection and timing of the conversations seemed too perfect at times.  I actually feel a little guilty for even pointing these things out, because Crowley's prose is so incredible that it far outweighs any minor things I noticed.

Three girls, three guys, one night.  That's the story.  But in one night, you get such a full richness of who they are that you'll be racing back through the pages once you're done, picking out your favorite passages. . .  just to catch one more breath of that magical feeling and holding it.  Read this one - it's a true delight.


". . .  and I took off across the night.  Took off under a sky bleeding out and turning black.  Left Dad sitting outside his shed yelling, "I thought you weren't meeting Jazz till later.  Where's the fire, Lucy Dervish?"

In me.  Under my skin."
-Lucy, page 1 (I knew I would fall for the this book after reading that on the first page)

"It isn't the smallness of this place that bothers me.  It's the grey that's worked its way into the walls.  It's the stains on the carpet from some other life that came and left before ours.  Bert always said he'd give me a good deal on paint but some places take burning down and rebuilding to make them shiny."
-Ed, page 10

"Every time he looked at me I felt like I'd touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. In Art class I'd watch him lean back and listen and I was nothing but zing and tingle. After a while the tingle turned to electricity, and when he asked me out my whole body amped to a level where technically I should have been dead. I had nothing in common with a sheddy like him, but a girl doesn't think straight when she's that close to electrocution."
-Lucy, pages 26-27

"First piece I ever did was for her.  A girl with roads and rivers and deserts running across her skin.  Highways on her neck that went all the way cross-country.  Off to the side of her was a guy with the hood of his car up and smoke pouring out of the engine."
-Ed, page 38

Love doesn't make the world go round
Sex makes it spin for a second or two
If you're lucky
So do chips, sausage rolls and girls in short
Lays its fingers on your heart
And holds it
Under water
Remember that
When the next girl smiles"
 -Leo, pages 97-98

"I close my eyes and let the movement take me somewhere else, let walls drop into my head the way they do when I feel space around me.  Maybe later I'll go somewhere and paint the dark that's sitting behind my eyes.  A dark filled with the sounds of the city and her breathing."
-Ed, page 120

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