I received a complimentary ARC of this book via Netgalley, but this review is based off a reading of the hard-copy which I purchased for myself. All opinions provided are my own.
Let the record reflect that I would be a horrible detective. I’m overly imaginative but with no built-in set of brakes that prevent me from becoming a rabid conclusion-jumper. Needless to say, I’m not like Birdie Lindberg, teen heroine of Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight and an aspiring detective who’s been exercising said detective muscles since childhood.
Birdie’s new job as a night-shift auditor at a fancy hotel presents her with her first big mystery case: the real identity of famed writer Raymond Darke. And the teen who points out this mystery to her? That’s none other than Daniel Aoki, a boy she recently had an embarrassing hook-up with & then avoided (like he was a loquacious former classmate she spotted across the grocery store on a day she wore her least flattering pair of jeans and just felt blah. Anyone else know the feeling?)
Bennett’s YA books sparkle and shine, even as they’re weighted with the subjects that make life challenging: divorce, the break-up of friendship, a bad hook-up, a previous suicide attempt, the death of a loved one. She’s tackled them all at some point or another in the three books of hers I’ve read. Her teenage main characters wrestle with their problems with a sensitivity & poise that’s admirable but doesn’t feel inauthentic or cloying.
What really makes her books special is that her characters are confident enough to be themselves. From their dress to their styling to their passions, they’re quirky, bold, & assured, & it makes me adore them. It also lends every story she tells the feeling of freshness. Case in point? Birdie is an orphaned homeschooled mystery-lover who wears a real flower behind her ear like Billie Holiday; Daniel is a hearing-disabled teen who lives in a commune with his mom & grandparents and loves magic.
Serious Moonlight is another rich, big-hearted novel from Jenn Bennett, so imbued with love for her characters and between her characters that it feels like a hug.
Q: Who is one of your favorite contemporary YA authors? I also highlyyyy recommend Julie Buxbaum.
Give me that HEA, please.
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