Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon has been on my wish list for over a year now, having been lauded on the Aussie blog sphere since it first came out in January 2010. I’m so happy to say, unlike many of my recent reads this year, Graffiti Moon survived the hype and catapulted itself to the top of my list for 2012.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

From the summary alone, I suspected this book would knock it out of the park. Disregarding the fact that nearly every work of Aussie young adult I read is golden, Graffiti Moon ostensibly had everything I love going for it: alternating points of view, a story told over the course of a night, focus on character-study rather than plot, prose whose starkness runs just shy of pretentious. From the first page, I was lost in Lucy and Ed’s story, though I admit that I wasn’t sold on Ed from the get-go. I guess with “graffiti artist” comes a certain level of irreverence that would bely a disinterest in authority, but I wasn’t expecting Ed to be quite so aimless. Yet I trusted Crowley to take these characters in the direction they needed to go, and I’m so glad that she didn’t attempt to mould them into artificial versions of themselves. The development of Ed’s character and the motivations for his conduct were surprising yet so believable, and unfortunately I believe they likely represent the situation of many young people whose problems are chalked up to behavioral rather than educational issues.

Crowley offered the promise of interest with her secondary characters and even allowed them all a modicum of story development in their own right, yet the novel centers squarely on Lucy and Ed, which was fine by me as I enjoyed listening to their voices. Unlike some authors who attempt the device, I had no problem believing that different people were narrating their respective sections (due perhaps in part to the use of rather poor grammar in Ed’s section, which troubled me until I was convinced that it was a stylistic choice rather than a writing error). I also enjoyed the brief glimpses we get into Poet’s mind through his poetry, which was actually readable and memorable rather than throwaway passages.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the story (the unbelievability of which nearly elevates it to magical realism, but which I’ll forgive) is the sheer enthusiasm for the arts that all of the characters exhibit. From drama to poetry to writing to architecture to visual arts, nearly every person in the story has a passionate outlet. I’ll admit to knowing nearly nothing about graffiti art save for some of the work by Banksy that a friend introduced me to (and whose work I used as a visual proxy while reading the book), but Crowley’s descriptions made me want to seek out this art-form myself. I was delighted that Lucy’s interest ran to glassblowing, which I have been fascinated with for years now and have always wanted to learn. Though the story takes place in less than twenty-four hours, the love with which Lucy and Ed talk about their respective callings and the emotion they are able to sense through each other’s work sold me on the progression of their feelings for each other.

I was sad to let this story go, yet Cath Crowley has earned a devoted reader in me. Loathe to leave the world I’d just left behind, I decided to research all of the works of art that are mentioned in the novel, and afterward realized that Persnickety Snark has a gallery of these works on her blog. I highly suggest checking it out after reading the book, as it helps the story come to life beyond its pages.

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