Moonwalking is an interesting story about friendship in early 1980s America. The characters are both likable and relatable, and the (SPOILER) not so happy ending, is a nice change of pace from having it “all be okay” and working out in the best possible outcome. The tone mostly feels realistic (though I am not sure (SPOILER) if Pie sending his address to JJ would have happened). The supporting cast could have been explored a bit more, but what is needed to promote and support the two narrators does work in this prose poetry novel by Zetta Elliott and Lyn Miller-Lachmann. However, this is a story about two boys, growing up and trying to find their places in the world and trying to find out who they are separate from their family, their school, and their city.
As mentioned, it is prose poetry, and reads as a novel, though it is mostly tradition looking poetry. However, there are a few kicks here and there with a shaped poem, or something “slightly different” about them. Perhaps a bit more background on the main characters would have been nice to have a better understanding of either boy’s situation, but due to current events with civil rights, we do know some of it (poverty, broken family, police relationships with people of color) and therefore, familiar with Pie’s story. It was JJ that I felt got the short end of the stick without a broader understanding of Communism (and why his family would have immigrated from Poland to the US), union issues, and the idea of a queer characters (though the one we know might be gay is a small part of things) and why that would be an issue to JJ’s family.
I was just double numbers by the mid-1980s and unfamiliar with growing up in New York as a person of color or a child of an immigrant father and grandparents. I do remember some of the things happening with President Ronald Regan, and this was a good introduction to “other things” more worldly. However, I am not sure how much a modern audience would appreciate some of what was happening at the time. Such as, are unions such a hot topic these days? I experienced two strikes (from the outside), and one directly affected my family. I saw how ugly it could get, therefore, feel I was more aware of the consequences that could be faced by JJ’s father. And do people understand the fear of communism the same way we did then? Also, I wonder if pop references were too obscure? I would like to hear kids’ take on things.
For at least ages 10 and up due to content and though it is “starred out,” there is language, and some violence that could be triggering and/or not for sensitive readers. Having some history of real-world people not as well known (a Polish activist for the unions in Poland and an artist of color that represents the character of Pie) included within the story is a clever addition to show the struggles our narrators are dealing with. Overall, I liked this book. I think it is something that if given to the right reader, or used in a classroom setting, it would have a strong impact.
CBR15Passport authors unknown to me