cover image Laugh with the Moon

Laugh with the Moon

Shana Burg. Delacorte, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-73471-4

With keen insight into culture and the psychology of grief, Burg (A Thousand Never Evers) crafts an atmospheric novel about 13-year-old Clare and her doctor father’s nine-week trip to Malawi. Clare chafes at leaving her friends (and technology) behind, and she is still struggling with her mother’s death eight months earlier. However, she is soon swept into a challenging but restorative adventure. When the headmaster at Clare’s school recruits her to teach English to 176 students, she finds new strength and confronts the difficulties, like a lack of books and other resources; her friends help her find ingenious solutions such as shaping letters of the alphabet from baked mud. Imaginary and dream scenes between Clare and her mother are uneven: though they sometimes ground the relationship and emotions, they can also interrupt the pacing of the narrative. The setting and cast emerge as real standouts, especially Clare’s friend Memory, who tells her, “Even the mourner must stop and laugh with the moon.” As this memorable heroine contends with loss, Burg balances tragedy with hope and resilience. Ages 8–12. Agent: Andrea Cascardi, Transatlantic Literary Agency. (June)