Where the Moon Isn't is a stunning novel that left me completely bowled over. Told in the voice of Matthew Homes, who is writing down what has happened, the story unfolds over Matt's life between ages 10 and 19.
As a young boy, Matt had a older-by-2-years brother, Simon, who happened to have Down's Syndrome. One of the features of DS kids is that they have moon faces - roundish features and often a happy grin. Through misadventure, Simon dies and Matt who feels responsible descends into despair. His moon is missing. Note the excellent portrayal on the cover.
As he moves into his teen years, like so many other young adults, Matt encounters mental illness, eventually diagnosed as schizophrenia. He is fully cognizant of his illness but is helpless in its throes. One of the obsessions he lives with is Simon and how to bring him back. At age 19 he starts to write it all down,and that narrative is what we are reading.
First-time author, Nathan Filer, is a British former mental health nurse and familiar with the ways that mental illness can take over a person's life. Filer is inspired in opening the novel with Matt as a normal child and then having us, the readers, accompany him into the descent of his illness, with heart-breaking effect on his relationships with family and friends.
In the same way that Mark Haddon's A Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-time gave us a window into what it's like to have high-functioning autism, we are immersed into the experience of being schizophrenic. It feels authentic. At the same time, we love Matthew Homes. He is sweet and fun and has a quirky sense of humour. We laugh, we cry, we empathize.
About two weeks ago I signed up for The Afterword Reading Society, a group of National Post book-lovers. Now I get a weekly email offering me the chance to be one of the next group of readers who will receive by mail, free-of-charge, the next book selected. If chosen, the reader must agree read the book and answer a questionnaire by a deadline.
I've been busy, so the first time I opted to enter the draw for the next book was the second week of December and guess what! I found out on the 18th that I had been chosen and would soon receive a copy of If I Fall, I Die, by Michael Christie. I have until January 13 to read the book and submit the answers to the questionnaire.
Did you have a chance to catch Libera
on PBS the other night? Libera is an English all-boy vocal group which tours the world and was in the US last April to record the program for PBS as part of their fund-raising efforts. The choir was well-received by the enthusiastic American audience.
They are truly outstanding: ordinary boys transformed through practice and discipline into a renowned choir that is a delight to watch and listen to.
Every December I come down with a craft bug. I have very little skill or creativity in that area, but I always enjoy making stuff.
The other day, on my way out of the library, I saw a display of Christmas books, including one on home-made crafts, so I brought it home and had fun leafing through it. Two ideas caught on.
These snowflakes are made out of ordinary printer paper, cut and glued - so easy. I should have taken a photo before I put them in the window. Actually, I think that real snowflakes have only 6 points, so these are a bit of a lie, but still pretty.
They show up better against the night outside.
This heart wreath is made with cranberries threaded onto two wires and bound with raffia. The little mason jar has a battery-powered tea-light inside.
Making it reminded me of all those years I used to thread popcorn and cranberries into a garland for the Christmas tree.
Here it is at night.
Of course, there's no end of ideas on Pinterest. I thought this little tree would be easy to put together. I think it was a suggested craft for a toddler learning to tie shoes. I used an old cinnamon stick I found in my spice drawer, but it would be cute with a twig too. I ran out of Christmas-y ribbon, otherwise I might have made a few more. I'll check out Michaels for a supply of ribbon for next year.