Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino
Routine is an easy and safe haven for Dr. Julia Rich who prefers to keep her life solitary and uneventful. A complex childhood, a tragic accident and the early death of her husband have made it easy and almost understandable for her to seek a life of solitude, void of personal connections.
A creative writing professor at a university in South Carolina, Julia has been granted a sabbatical and is thinking of ways to fill her days outside of the classroom when she gets an unexpected call that will change not only her daily life, but the course of her life forever. The message on her answering machine is from the daughter of her estranged and recently deceased brother Jeremiah who abandoned the family as a teen, and his daughter Carmen is now looking to spend time with her aunt as she continues on her journey. The thought of meeting the girl, having her past so very alive in her house and the fear of having her life uprooted all send Julia into a frenzy. When Carmen finally shows up on Julia’s back porch, the results are not horrible, but rather transformative and extraordinary.
Carmen is enigmatic, independent, thoughtful, smart and introspective. While the two women do take some time to get used to each other and open up, their relationship is a cautious development of trust, compassion and family. Carmen is engaging, active, helpful, and observant and exactly what Julia needs even though it takes her awhile to realize it. As time goes on, Julia shifts from thinking of ways to send Carmen on her way to instead thinking of all the reasons that she wants to keep her close by. The two women grow together, share tragic secrets of their own respective pasts and discuss their journeys in both the past and the future. Carmen is Julia’s opposite in some ways but the two compliment each other and bring out the best in one another. There is a comfortable existence between the two and when all of the secrets are on the table and progress for both women has been made, only then can they both realize there is still potential for growth in life.
I have not read a novel in a very long time that made me feel so passionately about the characters and the relationships in a story. To See the Moon Again is a lyrical, beautiful and patient look at the complexities of family, forgiveness and our willingness as human beings to adapt. Author Jamie Langston Turner creates characters that are engaging even when they are polarizing, conversations that are comfortable even when the matter is heavy or upsetting and a story that is unexpected, compelling and absolutely beautiful. Julia and Carmen’s relationship proves that in spite of all odds, sometimes all that’s needed is the unexpected and unfamiliar, a little bit of trust, wonderment and a lot of room for love.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.
Review and giveaway copies were provided by Berkley. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.