Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes is a true journey book, and were it not for the fact that mobile phones are used and that Ground Zero gets a mention, I’d have wanted to place it much earlier in history. That’s the kind of timeless feel this novel has. And it’s the most fantastic book! I don’t know why I didn’t read it earlier. Well, I do actually. It was because I had no inkling it could be this good.
It’s been shortlisted enough, and it won the Booktrust teenage prize just the other week. Now that could be where I don’t agree with what others have said. It was described by Tony Bradman as ‘managing to explore the kind of themes teenagers will find engaging’. It’s a much younger book than that. Bob is 12 and his sister Marie Claire, aka the Rat, is ten. Their view of life is very much what children that age will have, except possibly most are slightly less outrageously exuberant and a little more ‘normal’.
We know that Bob and the Rat take to the road because their father is dead, which is good to know, or we would be far more upset when the lovely man dies. They set off from Winnipeg in Canada to New York to find their uncle Jerome, whom they don’t know. The Rat is rather crazy, but very very charming, and she is the brains behind this. Bob comes along because he needs to protect his sister.
There is very little Marie Claire can’t do. She sings and acts and has the most tremendous memory for unimportant facts by the shovelful. They know uncle Jerome is a drug dealer, so look in the shadiest places for him. They meet small crooks and hustlers, and some bigger crooks too. There are Irish doormen and famous rappers. And paedophiles. Luckily the Rat has a sixth sense and she knows what will happen before it happens.
Unhooking the Moon would make a great film, as long as they can catch some of the love both children have for each other and their Dad and for many of the strangers they meet en route to their drug dealer uncle.
A lovely, lovely book. I could go on all day.
OK, I’ll go now.