Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo
They decide to take her home for Alfie's mother, Mary Wheatcroft, to nurse back to health. The girl keep saying Lucy over and over, and when Dr. Crow is called to examine her, it's decided that Lucy must be her name. Soon she is known all over the island as Lucy Lost. At first, Lucy refuses to speak and eat, but gradually does take some of the food given her. She also refuses to leave the room she is put into. One day, the doctor suggests using music to see if that will help her, bringing over his gramophone and records. Lucy is drawn to the music, particularly one piece by Mozart, and while the music gets Lucy out of her room, she still doesn't speak.
Flashback to New York City in March 1915. Merry McIntyre and her mother have been missing her Canadiann father ever since he enlisted and left for the war in Europe. When they receive a letter saying he has been wounded and is in an English hospital, Mrs. McIntyre decides they will sail to England on the S.S. Lusitania in May despite the danger of German submarines prowling the Atlantic Ocean. It proves to be a voyage that confines Mrs. McIntyre to the bed with seasickness, while Merry takes the opportunity to get to know the ship and their cabin steward Brandon very well.
Forward flash again to Bryher. Thanks to the music and Alfie's patience and kindness, Lucy begins to get better daily. But when school begins again at the end of summer, the teacher, Mr. Beagley, a particularly cruel person, decides Lucy must attend or be reported to the authorities. And eventually, when word gets out about the German blanket Lucy was found with, the island people turn on her and the Wheatcrofts, believing the are on the side of the Germans and shunning them to the point that life becomes difficult. When someone paints "Remember the Lusitania" on the Wheatcrofts door, and Mary sees recognition in Lucy's eyes, even this kind, stalwart woman begins to wonder about her.
Astute readers will early on realize the Lucy and Merry McIntyre is the same person, but solving the mystery of her identity is not what is at the heart of this story. What is at the heart is a wonderful story about home front life and survival during WWI, about love, hate and unusual kindnesses, and about what family really means.
Listen to the Moon is a rich multi-layered novel based on a confluence of actual events, framed by an unnamed future narrator (not future to the reader, however). The story within the frame is told alternately in the third person from Alfie and Merry/Lucy's perspectives, with additional information from Dr. Crow's journal and Mr. Beagley's school log, all making this a very well-developed, thoroughly intense story.
There is so much history in the novel, so be sure to read the background information to Listen to the Moon for more understanding, especially the part about the S.S. Schiller and why Germans were not allowed to attack the Isles of Scilly in WWI. The background material is every bit as compelling as Morpurgo's novel.
The Guardian has an interesting pictorial article on how the Lusitania inspired Listen to the Moon HERE
You can find very useful Teacher Resources on Michael Morpurgo's website HERE
This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley