The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

by Danette Haworth
ages: 8+
First sentence: “‘Hey!’ I yell.”
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Review copy sent to me by the publisher

Sometimes I find a book enjoyable, even though when I finish I have no idea why. This was one of those books. Nice and sweet, but left me wondering at the end just why I thought it was enjoyable. That, and what was it all about, anyway?

Told in alternating chapters, it’s the story of Allie Jo, resident of the Merriweather Hotel in Hope Springs, Florida and Chase, who’s there for a summer with his father while he’s on a travel writing assignment. It’s a little bit of everything: there’s some historical fiction (well, it’s set in the 80s, which calling historical kind of makes me cringe), there’s a splash of fantasy, there’s a bit of a growing up story, and an inkling of romance.

All of which were enjoyable: it was fun visiting the 80s, even though there really wasn’t a whole lot to indicate that it was the 80s; just a few hints and references here and there. The growing up story was mostly Allie Jo’s; she’s an only child, introverted, and a tad bit ashamed of living in a hotel, even while she’s proud of the legacy the Merriweather has. She has to learn, over the course of the book that she is okay with who she is, and that she’s much stronger than she realizes.

The romance belongs to Chase (though he has a — gasp — divorce in his family to deal with), and it’s a very sweet and slightly awkward one, as should be the case when you’re only 13. But it was the fantasy element — in this case, a twist on Irish folklore — that made the book intriguing. There’s a mystery to it as well, as Chase and Allie Jo meet and befriend Tara, they need to unravel just what it is that makes her special.

Even with all that (maybe it was too much?), I ended the book scratching my head. What was it about, really? What was the point? While I enjoyed it, I never really connected with it, never really felt any reason to think about it beyond when I was reading it. It didn’t really capture my fancy.

But it was enjoyable. Maybe that should be enough.


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