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West of the Moon by Margi Preus

West of the Moon

by Margi Preus

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1841364,254 (3.7)1



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This is a well-researched story weaving together both folk tale and history. It takes place at a time when people were ruled by superstitions and legends. Astri the main character is caught in the cross-hares of folk tale and reality, and finds herself in some very difficult situations no thanks to the adults in her life. Sold into slavery by her Aunt she sees herself as the subject of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," but instead of a kind Abjorsen, she is in the power of an abusive man who plans to force her into a marriage. She uses familiar folk tales to explain her situation to herself and to help her to decide what to do next, but ultimately has to deal with considerable guilt for the outcome of some of those decisions. The story has a fairy tale quality to it, much like the many folk tales that it references, but it also deals with some very real human struggles and situations. ( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
Did not care for this. The underlying story of the girl coming to America from Norway was good. But the whole weaving of fairytales in felt odd. Made the whole tale feel fake to me. ( )
  pickleroad | Nov 10, 2016 |
See full review @ The Indigo Quill

Do I sense a Newbery Award? I think so. Margi Preus has brought an exceptional piece of literature to the table in her new novel, West of the Moon. Norwegian sisters Astri and Greta are separated when Astri is sold to the local goat herder, Svaalberd. Their mother is passed and their father has made his getaway to America with the others caught in "America Fever." The idea is that he'd make a better living for his family and send for them when the time was right. Astri decides she can no longer settle for less than reuniting with their father, so she makes her escape, taking her sister and a mysterious quiet girl with her. After the initial track through a large forest while being chased by Svaalberd, they finally arrive at the ship headed to America. This is where the story shifts and proceeds with a new tone.

To top off the adventure, Preus coalesces folklore and inspiration from her own ancestry to devise a Newbery-worthy novel. This book reminded me a lot of the old American girl books, especially my personal favorite, Kirsten. The journey you take with the characters isn't just interesting, but it can also open up the opportunity to learn about immigration; illnesses and illegal passengers included.

I found this book in the Young Adult section at Barnes & Noble and immediately fell in love with the cover (I wish I could say I don't judge a book by its cover, but I'm a sucker for beautiful artwork!). I decided to go on a whim and purchase it, and I couldn't set it down until I was finished! I love those kinds of books.

It was strange that I found it in the Young Adult books, because this is much more of a middle-grade book. I understand that there is one part where there's an implication of an adult theme, but it was very brief and if I were a kid, I probably wouldn't have caught it. Others have said they found it in the Children's section, so I guess different stores are categorizing it differently. It could go both ways, but it definitely looked out of place between all the books on vampires and teenage love-triangles.

I can't wait for next year's awards, and I really hope this book either wins, or gets really close. It has all the makings of a Newbery, and it would make a wonderful embellishment of literature on anyone's bookshelf. I am so glad I randomly bought this (and judged this book by its cover)! ( )
  TheIndigoQuill | Nov 7, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this book! It was action packed, emotional, magical, terrifying, and heartwarming.
However some of the subject matter (attempted sexual abuse, mutilation, general graphic violence) is a little too intense for kids, depending on their age and maturity level. ( )
  DanielleMD | Jun 20, 2015 |
I'm a huge fan of the East of the Sun, West of the Moon and related fairy tales, and I liked this a lot once I started rolling with it. Two little girls are determined to emigrate from Norway to America in search of their father, and the older girl weaves in a series of Norwegian folk stories to provide some support for their journey. I loved how this is one of those books where nearly everything comes together in a satisfying way in the end.

I was somewhat surprised that this was a little more explicitly dark than I was expecting, to which you are possibly thinking "WELL YOU KNOW, fairy tales ARE dark," which is true. One of things about the Lang retellings of these is that they can get darker as the reader brings more experience to them, while this, on the other hand, it was spelled out. Which is fine, but wouldn't have been the ideal choice for me.

Tough call between three and four stars. It's really quite lovely writing. ( )
  delphica | Jun 10, 2015 |
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In nineteenth-century Norway, fourteen-year-old Astri, whose aunt has sold her to a mean goatherder, dreams of joining her father in America.

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