Monday 18 June 2012

170. Moon Pie by Simon Mason

Moon Pie by Simon Mason
Published June 2012 Random House (David Fickling Books)

From the publisher:
Eleven-year-old Martha is used to being the one who has to keep her head. Tug, her little brother, is too small. Dad is too strange. And Mum's not here any more. So when Dad falls off the roof, it's Martha who ices his knee and takes him to the doctor. And when Dad doesn't come home, it's Martha who cooks Tug's favourite pie and reads him his bedtime story. And when Dad passes out, it's Martha who cleans him up and keeps his secret. But eventually Dad's problems become too big for even Martha to solve. There is only one person who can sort things out now. Dad.

Life is hard for 11 year old Martha and her 5 year old brother Tug. Their mother died when Martha was only 9 and she tries really hard to keep the family going. Things get harder when Dad starts acting strangely. He goes out until all hours without letting them know where he is, and when he comes home he takes them for midnight picnics.   It's not until they have visitors over for lunch, and Martha's new friend Laura asks how long her Dad has been drinking for, does she realize they have a big problem. Their Dad is an alcoholic.  

It's so sad to watch Martha be so strong when she is dealing with her Dad. With his up and down moods, and his assurance that he doesn't have a drinking problem. The turning point is when she and Tug find him passed out in the floor in his own vomit, and worse.  It's at this point that their Dad realises he has to make changes.

He gets better, cooks, gets work, everything is looking like it use to be when their Mum was alive, and then something terrible happens. Then Social Services step in and there are big changes for Martha and Tug. 

They have to move in with their Grandparents.  They like being in a clean house, they like to feel safe and Martha likes that she doesn't have to worry anymore, there are lots of rules, but it's better than being with their Dad right now. The night their Dad comes and tries to break them out, Martha screams at him to leave her alone, because she admits, she is only a little girl.  This is the hardest thing she has ever had to admit, as she has always tried to be so strong, but it's the one thing he needed to hear. 

The topic of this book is awful, but the story is, although harrowing at times, beautiful. It is about family, love and making tough decisions that can hurt people you love even though it's the right thing to do.  

This book has more than a little Jacqueline Wilson about it, and it will appeal to readers of that gritty real life genre.  As a little light relief, you will be charmed by Martha's best friend, Marcus, a sometimes cross-dressing speed movie maker!

Who will like this book: Girls age 11+
Read it if you like: Jacqueline Wilson

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