August 26, 2017

Janet McNally: "Girls in the Moon"

Title: Girls in the Moon [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Janet McNally [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary
Year: 2016
Age: 12+
Stars: 2.5
Pros: Lyrical writing. A love letter to New York and music.
Cons: Relies on a bunch of stereotypes when it comes to characters - even those who are relatable sound too refined to ring true. Conflicts get resolved too easily, or are ultimately glossed over. Both the setting and the music scene are painted with rounded edges, which detracts from believability. Not much happens. 
Will appeal to: Those who like quiet stories with a coming-of-age angle and a cute romance.

Blurb: Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth. Her mother, Meg, ex-rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story - the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister Luna, indie rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the co-founder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago. But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits into this family of storytellers, and maybe even to continue her own tale - the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: I thought this book would be the next Luna-C for me (WHICH YOU HAVE TO READ NOW, THANK ME LATER). Heck, both of them even have a main character named Phoebe (because, reasons) and a moon reference in the title/band name. Boy, was I wrong.


So, back in 2016, everyone and their dog was raving about this book. I mean, not literally EVERYONE, but those who had read an ARC were in rapture or something. The few who weren't mainly complained about the book being uneventful, which didn't sound like a big deal to me, since I can enjoy a quiet narrative, provided it's deep. And GITM seemed to qualify. This resulted in my 1) putting this book at the top of my TBR list and 2) ultimately purchasing a HARDCOVER copy, because I didn't want to wait till the paperback was released.
Now, I know part of my disappointment in GITM is due to great expectations gone sour. I can't honestly say it is a BAD book, and the writing is lyrical enough without getting purple - conversely, I would say that there's nothing overwritten or convoluted about it. But the thing is, I no longer have patience with books (or media in general) that perpetuate stereotypes or don't try to break ground in some way. For all its superficial pleasantness, GITM relies on characters and occurrences that we are very much familiar with, and doesn't seem to want to turn them upside down. So, what we ultimately get is a bland coming-of-age story, a too-cute-for-this-world romance, and a bunch of potentially dramatic (or wait, not really) situations/conflicts that either get resolved in a hour or two or are very much glossed over. [...]


For a book with music at its core, GITM doesn't give us a real feel of what it is/was like being in a band (keep in mind that this is a double narrative, part daughter in 2016, part mother in the '90s). The mother is clearly not cut out for the things that come along with rising fame, and I can relate to that (I'm a radio host at a local station, and people don't care for radio personalities anymore - like they used to in the '70s and early '80s - plus I don't have a public profile, so thankfully I don't get people waiting for me at the door or coming to me in the street, because I wouldn't be able to deal with them if I did, so PHEW). Sometimes small is all you need, because it's more comfortable. But when we are led to understand that the mother ultimately breaks the band and proceeds to bury her own past because she wants to protect her daughters, I have a HUGE problem with that. It perpetuates a stereotype about women that I'm fed up with. Even the insight into her daughter Luna's own band in the present are more like sketches than anything. Her boyfriend is so nice. Her (black) drummer is so nice, and barely gets screen time (why am I not surprised? Token black character?), but anyway - nice. Her bassist had some not specified issues in his recent past, but despite that - nice. Of course, Luna is NOT nice instead. But she gets away with it. Her boyfriend dotes on her, her bandmates are loyal to her, her sister forgives her, a potentially HUGE bump in her career is overcome in a couple of hours (just because her younger sister Phoebe takes the matter in her own hands, while Luna has simply wallowed in her secret misery for days). Also, prepare for a bunch of Kurt Cobain references. How new. I get it, part of this book is set in the '90s, and he was an icon of the decade, especially (*sigh*) because he committed suicide at the peak of his fame. But can we have a single YA books dealing with music (even marginally) without Cobain's ghost showing up? Thank you, thank you so much. *cue Brenda Johnson's voice*


I'm a master at suspension of disbelief. It's like an art. Ghosts and undead walk the earth, I join the parade. People time-travel and cross worlds, I cheer along the way. But I have a problem with stories that are firmly rooted in everyday reality and yet try to make me believe that humanity is better than we know it is. (Or even worse - that is, mean without purpose like the bullies in your usual high school book scenery...but I digress). That love causes funny things to happen not only to your heart, but also to your throat and lungs and whatnot (I'm OK with metaphors, except these are not - are such things even REAL?). Maybe I'm just being cynical, or I didn't meet the right people, but that's how I feel. And while I was enjoying the NY wanderings of Phoebe (a good part of which seemed to happen at night or in the early morning), a part of me was thinking "How come she doesn't get raped, or mugged, or 'simply' molested?". Also, all the time I was wondering why most of these characters weren't actually TALKING to one another, instead of keeping lame secrets or being (artfully) cryptic. Why no one seemed to ask the right questions (except for Phoebe with her father). OK, there would be no book if they did. But maybe that only means that...these kinds of books are not needed? I suppose the vast majority of readers who reviewed GITM would think otherwise, and it's OK. It just that, I believe it's time for books to go unexpected places and break unwritten rules. And I get so angry at those that don't.
Before I go, here is a review of GITM that I had fun reading (though you'll have to click on the spoiler tags to get to the juicy bits, but they're not huge spoilers anyway): Elissa's review. BTW, her end line is so on point 😂.

For more Contemporary books click here.


  1. I haven't heard of this one at all. O_O

    At first I thought it would be something I might like - music, NYC, a little romance but I hate anything that hinges on secrets and no one talking to each other. I completely stop caring. lol

    For What It's Worth

    1. Oh, it gets better. There's also a long-lost father, whom I didn't mention in my review because it was too long already (and because frankly, I was too busy being angry at the women in this book already ;D), but who is the main reason why Phoebe came to NY. And another bunch of we-haven't-talked stuff related to him. Oh, and...even Phoebe has a secret, because of course her manic pixie dream girl of a sister wouldn't approve. *rolls eyes*
      Everybody's-got-secrets is another overdone trope, on top of that...

  2. Hmmm... This does sound rather disappointing. I hate it when I have high hopes for a book and I love the concept, but it just doesn't live up.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I'm usually lucky in that respect, because my book-choosing process is painstaking, to say the least ;D. But I've had my share of disappointments through the years. You can read a ton of reviews, but there's always a fat chance of misinterpreting other people's feelings...or they simply weren't bothered by the same angle that will bother YOU. I think I simply wasn't the right audience for this one, while the vast majority of the readers who took a chance on this were. I rest my case about the stock characters though ;D.

  3. Okay so I disappear from your blog and I find like FOUR reviews. Who are you, and what have you done to the real Roberta?

    Anyways, I have heard of no such book and have no such dog.

    But ew. I hate stereotypes. I will pass.

    1. I would like to say that you inspired me to be a better blogger (a.k.a. shamed me with all your blogging/social media sheanigangs lately ;D), but alas, that's not the case. I've just taken advantage of my boss going on holidays for 3 weeks and leaving me all alone to hold the fort (and he totally deserves my silent rebellion), and of a week where I was graciously allowed to stay at home. Also, I started to read/blog around a schedule, which seems to work for now. I don't expect it to hold for long, but at least I'm being productive right now and right here ;). I suspect I'll need a hiatus soon though ;) *wipes sweat from brow*.

    2. I assume that hiatus will include visiting me and shaming me with GIFs?

    3. I'm not sure I'll even have time for that LOL. Then again, the part where I shame you with GIFs sounds tempting...

  4. I somehow missed the buzz on this book, so I haven't heard about it. I do like that it's set in NYC- it's my favorite city to visit, so I'm sure I'd like that part of the book... but I think this might be a pass for me. Thanks for giving such a detailed review so I could really get a sense of the book!

    1. Thank you for endorsing my "detailed reviews" LOL. Sometimes I'm afraid that, my no-spoiler stance notwithstanding, I talk too much...


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