Maybe I should just grab books off the shelf at the library more often. I just finished yet another great book. I have a passel of sick girls at home keeping me from doing other things so I am getting to read a little more than normal.
I picked up Man in the Blue Moon by Michael Morris and glanced at it briefly. I remember thinking “Why not?” as I rushed to get to the next errand. Actually I believe it was the quote on the back comparing Michael Morris to Harper Lee that really caught my attention. I love Harper Lee, so this book had to be good.
I picked it up after the kids were in bed, and I finally put it down at midnight so I’d be able to get the kids to school this morning. After snatching a moment here and there, I finished with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.
During the midst of the first World War, Ella Wallace is struggling to cope with her store, her three boys, her indebtedness, and her loneliness after her drug addict gambling husband skips town. Her former boyfriend, Clive, is the banker threatening to foreclose on her property that her husband mortgaged behind her back. Her youngest son is on the verge of death from an infection. Her oldest son, 16 or 17, is trying to be the man of the house without the maturity such a task requires.
Life begins to change when they pick up a package from the Blue Moon Clock Company. The novel follows the family’s struggles to earn enough money to pay off the mortgage on the land that Ella’s father left her. Although his motives are unclear to Ella, Clive also wants the land and is willing to resort to all sorts of underhanded methods to keep her from scraping enough money together.
The characters are pretty clear-cut and well fleshed out. My favorite had to be Keaton, the middle son, who is thirteen. He is young enough that Ella wants him to finish his childhood, but he is old enough to understand the struggles she is facing. In the end he’s the catalyst for the happy ending.
Many of the historic details used through the story bring it to life while anchoring it firmly in time. Racial tensions of the early 1900s in Florida provide a richly hued tapestry for several of the most touching scenes in the novel. The influenza epidemic of 1918 is horrifying and seamlessly woven into the narrative as well as the ending of WWI. The curse of easily corrupted local politics of the time is also present and lending a hand in the action.
I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from Michael Morris. I loved that he was able to tell his story without profanity and adult scenes. That is the touch of a true storyteller to me. All in all, Man in the Blue Moon is a great book that I would reccommend to anyone.