A NIGHT ON MOON HILL
Tanya Parker Mills
(MY PICK READ OF THE YEAR!)
Superb writing and complex, heartrending characters combine to make A Night on Moon Hill my pick read of 2012. Author Tanya Park Mills has built an award-winning career by pulling topics and characters out of obscure corners and into the light, and in this most recent book she educates her readers while daring them to leave the next page unturned.
Dr. Daphne Lessing is an accomplished though prickly novelist and University professor. She loves writing while merely tolerating people. Some call her narcissistic. She’s not sure what she is. She knows there is something odd about her inability to connect with people, her obsession with order, and her unwillingness to be touched, but she’s knows narcissism does not sum it up.
She had only ever connected with one person--an equally odd boy from her high school swim team who, like her, found solace and joy in the exhaustion of swimming, and in writing. Her parents are gone now, and Daphne is alone. She likes it that way. Discipline now holds her world together, but that’s about to change drastically.
From the back of the book:
Swimming is Daphne's one refuge until the night she finds a body in her pool.
University professor and renowned author Daphne Lessing has never felt at ease in society. But a disturbing occurrence in her once calm and controlled existence suddenly unearths events from her past and thrusts an unusual child into her life.
Ten-year-old Eric has Asperger's syndrome and is obsessed with fishing and angels. Soon, Daphne finds herself attached to him and faced with a choice: Does she leave him and return to her solitary, ordered life, trusting others to do right by him, or does she allow this bright child to draw her into the world she has tried to shun? And what about the man that came into Daphne's life with Eric? Will she be able to shut him out as well?
Mills opens the book with a wrenching first scene that comes out of nowhere, and the ride begins as an intricate tale of lives altered by invisible disabilities unfolds. The author draws upon personal experience to flesh out her complex, conflicted, but intensely human characters. Her personal understanding of Asperger’s takes the reader into the minds of those affected by the syndrome. Those touched by similar disabilities will find the book fascinating on that level alone, but all readers will appreciate the struggle of flawed characters attempting to rise above the past, to pierce self-imposed limits to be more, to do better, to live larger.
The catastrophic event that launches the story may pose a challenge to some readers. For that reason I’d advise parents to read the book first before handing it off to a teen, but Mills handles the circumstance with grace, and leaves the final judgment to the reader.
Mills commands language, crafting scenes with scalpel-like precision. Every page is delicious. This is great storytelling that will enlighten and intrigue. This is not a message book. A Night on Moon Hill is a tender drama wrapped around a satisfying mystery with the intensity of a spine-tingling suspense novel. In short, this book delivers.