Mending the Moon by Susan Palwick

Mending the MoonI recently wrote about Louise Erdrich’s The Round House. Shortly after reading Erdrich’s novel, I read Susan Palwick’s Mending the Moon which shares some themes in common with The Round House.

Jeremy was adopted from Guatemala by Melinda Soto, a librarian from Reno, Nevada. Melinda travels to Mexico while Jeremy is in college and while she is there, she is raped and murdered; Melinda dies at the age of 64.

But Mending the Moon is not a mystery, in fact it makes it plain that it is the opposite of that. At one point, one of Melinda’s friends recounts what she had said to one of her library book group members who asked that the group read mysteries:

“I keep thinking about Melinda’s book group at the library. I was there once when some woman asked why Melinda wouldn’t let us read murder mysteries. She could have been one of my students: ‘Why do we have to read all these serious books?’ Idiot. And Melinda said, ‘I don’t want to read about people dying horribly, especially in books that aren’t supposed to be serious.’ She said, ‘Those books turn senseless, violent death into a puzzle with a neat solution: once you’ve caught the murderer, the puzzle’s solved, the world’s safe again.’ She said that was fundamentally dishonest.

Palwick takes us into the lives of Melinda’s dear friends and her son after her death—Veronique, a college professor who wishes she could retire, Rosemary, a woman who dives into volunteer work after her husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Hen, the priest at Melinda’s church. We are also introduced to the mother of the boy who committed the crime, Anna, a woman on Mercer Island who reaches out to Melinda’s friends and son.

Throughout there is also a comic book hero, Comrade Cosmos, who captivated both Jeremy and the young man who killed his mother.The story of this comic hero who relies on community rather than powers to effect change against his arch-nemesis, the Emperor of Entropy.

This is an emotional, character-driven novel about the hole a person leaves behind in the lives they touched. There are no easy answers, no big reveals like the ones found in many murder mysteries–there is just real human pain, loss and community in the wake of the improbable.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library.

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