Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

The reader will be fooled by Dorothy Garlock’s The Moon Looked Down. Although it is written in what appears to be a seemingly sophomoric-hand, the story is still an important one to re-tell.

The book begins with Sophie Heller being awakened by three men burning down her family’s barn. She later finds out that the men are townsmen intent on driving her and her family out of town because they are of German heritage. The story intertwines with that of another family in town, the Ambrose family, who own the local hardware store. The father Robert and son Cole have a strained relationship as Cole returns home after a long absence. Cole, a man born with a clubfoot, is searching to find himself and repair a broken relationship with his father that began when his mother died. The father and son will need to make amends if they are ever to move forward and heal after the tragic event of the mother’s passing.

The reader is drawn into the story as a blossoming love relationship begins between Cole and Sophie. This is directly juxtaposed with the story describing the underlying racist hatred that is directed towards Sophie and her family. The three characters, Riley Mason, Ellis Watts, and Graham Grier are intent on “teaching them a lesson,” and “finishing them off”. Meanwhile, Sophie gets closer to Cole, develops a sense of courage and learns that fighting hatred and racism is more empowering than cowering and running away from adversity.

The Moon Looked Down is told with simple themes, short manageable chapters and carefully chosen words to express the plot of the story with clarity and believable prose. There are no scenes depicting stunning imagery, and no words are wasted in this book. But the reader will find a story of courage and a strong lead female character who learns to stand up for herself and what is right, at any cost.

Poppy graduated with a JD from the Michael Moritz College of Law. She worked in several NYC law departments before realizing she’d rather be teaching. After a decade of teaching Business Studies courses, she decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, managing client content from comedy to marketing, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.