Otters’ Moon by Susanna Bailey – Book Review
Otters’ Moon by Susanna Bailey – Book Review
Author – Susanna Bailey
Publisher – Egmont
Pages – 304
Released – 29th October 2020
ISBN-13 – 978-1405294966
Format – ebook, paperback
Review by – Stacey
Rating – 5 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
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Luke hates his life. His dad is busy with a shiny replacement family. His mum just isn’t herself anymore. So when his mum insists they spend their holiday on a remote Scottish island, things go from bad to worse. The sun never appears, the locals don’t speak, and even the seabirds are malevolent.
Then, Luke meets Meg, who lives with her grandfather, Seth, in a boarded-up boat house on the beach. Luke follows Meg to the forbidden Puffin Bay, and discovers a surprising world, teeming with life and colour. There they rescue an otter pup, too young to survive alone. They name him Willow, and care for him while he learns to fend for himself in the wild.
But danger lurks behind the beauty of Puffin Bay, and when Meg and Seth go missing, Luke sets out to find them. Before long, it is Luke that must depend upon Willow for survival . . .
Otters’ Moon is a beautiful middle-grade story about a boy called Luke who is on holiday with his mum on a remote Scottish island. His mum has taken them there from their home down south to try to cover from a darkness that has come over her since her husband left her for another woman and they have started a family together.
Luke is also angry about his dad leaving and him having a ‘shiny new family’ and a new half-sibling that he refuses to accept as being related to him. He isn’t happy to be on the island where the weather is poor, the people don’t seem to like outsiders, and it is dark by 3 pm.
Meg lives on the island with her Grandfather Seth who is suffering from what I would suspect is dementia. She doesn’t want anyone to know about her grandad being sick and she tries to look after her own.
The book is a meeting of two young people who each have their problems and are upset with the world and the way it has treated them. Meg is a conservationist after her parents who were tragically lost at sea. She has been cleaning the beaches and looking after a new family of otters that have appeared, though she doesn’t want anyone else to know about them as they will want to photograph them and see them which in turn could be bad for the family.
The plot is not an easy read with depression, dementia, hurt, betrayal, broken families, etc being at the forefront. However, it is a beautiful, poignant read which shares the joy of friendship even in its raw form. Although it has these hard-hitting subjects it is also an uplifting read and one that is emotional and gets to the core of those middle years of childhood which are quite often overlooked as eleven/twelve-year-olds are no longer little children but not quite teenagers yet.
The writing and tone of the book is spot on. It talks at the right level for middle-graders. For those children that may be experiencing first-hand their parents separating, this could be the key for them to realise that their feelings are valid and they would be able to emphasise with Luke.
It is gut-wrenching at times and such joy at others. It is a book that deals with not only human life but that of the animals and the environment too.
Book Reviewer – Stacey
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About the Author
Sue grew up in Northern England, close to purple moorland and long, silvery beaches. Books were her earliest friends. She learned the joy of ‘making things’ from her wonderfully creative mother, who was a great weaver of tales. She drew fabulous pictures to illustrate her ideas, and encouraged Sue to do the same. When small, Sue often made up stories and brought them to life, with paper people on cardboard theatre stages.
Sue has seen just how helpful stories – and animals – can be when children (and adults) are confused, sad, or afraid. She has learned about the healing power of nature; of wild, quiet, green spaces. Seven years ago, she decided to see if she could write about these things, and went to university to study creative writing. In 2016, Sue was awarded the Bath Spa University Undergraduate Prize for Writing for Young People. The following year, she graduated, with distinction, from Bath Spa’s wonderful MA Writing for Young People. Her MA Novel, Snow Foal, was shortlisted for the 2017 Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize, and given ‘honourary mention’ in the United Agents/Bath Spa University Prize for the same year.
Sue now lectures part-time in Creative Writing.