Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Book Review: THE MEASURE OF THE MOON by Lisa Preston

The Measure of the Moon

Author: Lisa Preston
Thomas & Mercer
March 2017
Expected publication: 18 April 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“If you ever say anything to anyone, they all die.”

When eight-year-old Greer Donner falls off his horse in the Washington wilderness, he braces himself to face the long hike home alone. But screams pierce the darkness, and he stumbles upon a dead-end road where a man is beating a woman—nearly to death. In a moment of courage, he stops the assault, but he’s left to face the man, who turns his wrath into an ominous threat: if the boy ever reveals what he has seen, his family will pay the ultimate price. The secret Greer now carries begins his emotional unraveling.

In Seattle, Gillian Trett is a photographer with a troubled marriage and a childhood she’s trying to forget. Domestic tension mounts when her husband’s stepsister arrives. Desperate for a distraction, and a way to advance her career, Gillian throws herself into uncovering the history behind an old man’s Holocaust photo of boys in a forest. The mysterious children and the truth behind the scene haunt her—she can’t let go of the image, or of her own shadowed past.

Then a horrifying revelation entangles Gillian’s path with young Greer’s. The boy and the woman, separated by a generation and a hundred miles, each confront the terrible power of harbored secrets—not only to eclipse the truth but also to illuminate the dark, unknown dimensions of their loved ones and themselves.

My thoughts:

8-year old Greer has everything a little boy could ever want: loving parents, a sheltered childhood growing up in the natural beauty a stone-throw away from the Olympic National Park, and five older siblings who nurture and protect him. But his life changes for ever on the night he witnesses a man assault a woman in the woods. Little Greer knows wrong when he sees it, and he is not afraid to step in and confront the assailant. Due to his brave intervention, the woman manages to escape, but the man’s angry last words will ring in his ears forever: If you tell, I will kill your whole family. His family, the people he loves most in the whole world. Greer’s lips are sealed as he pictures images so horrible they haunt him in his sleep. With a secret so terrible, Greer begins to unravel, and no one knows why ....

In Seattle, Gillian dreams of a different life, and feels terrible to be so ungrateful. Doesn’t she have everything a woman could possibly want? A loving husband, a beautiful home, enough money to be comfortable for the rest of her life, and her job as photographer which has so far fulfilled her. But there is a burning desire for excitement that will not go away. When she stumbles upon an old photograph of a group of solemn-faced children hidden in an antique camera, she is intrigued to find out more about their background, not realising that the story she will discover will change her life ....

The Measure of the Moon is a thought provoking, haunting tale of the burden of childhood trauma and its effects on different people from different family backgrounds. Greer, who has a big loving family to support him. Gillian, whose alcoholic parents had left her and her sister Becky to fend for themselves as children, and who both cope in different ways with the after effects of neglect. Alex and Alice, orphans growing up in an unimaginable time with terrible choices to make. And Liz, the mysterious woman on the run with a young child. As their stories intersect, each one must rely on their inner strength to make choices, right or wrong, which will shape their lives in different ways.

The author’s background in emergency services obviously stays her in good stead when it comes to understanding different people and their motivations, and her characters and their backgrounds are richly drawn and authentic. In fact, I thought I must have missed an earlier book in a series, as the novel assumes a certain familiarity with the Greer clan that made me feel like they have featured in other novels before, so detailed were their individual histories. I could picture them vividly in my mind, feeling their confusion and pain in seeing their youngest family member unravel before their very eyes without knowing why. What greater agony could there be for a parent than seeing their child suffer and being helpless to help? It was agony to read about the fear locked into the boy’s heart from a threat so carelessly uttered by a violent man. Whilst I also found Gillian an intriguing and likeable character, I found her story to be a bit overshadowed by the many side-stories relating to the Greer clan.

The Measure of the Moon is a slow, contemplative and character driven drama rather than a fast-paced mystery, and I especially loved the historical element introduced by the old photo, which I felt intriguing. At times I longed for a bit more action as the story slowly simmered along, but all in all I really enjoyed the journey. I look forward to reading more from this author!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

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