Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew
Young Adult | Contemporary
Published by Walker Books US
Released 1 September 2020
Goodreads | Amazon
Public shaming has always existed, but it seems far more prevalent and far-reaching in our age of internet and social media. Lucy Cuthew’s Blood Moon is a young adult contemporary novel told in verse that takes a look at the impact of public shaming, as well as the importance of friendship.
Frankie, our main character, is a high school girl who has her first sexual experience, during which her period starts. She and the guy, Benjamin, both agree that it’s not a big deal. (Which is a great thing to be included in a young adult novel – let’s nip that taboo in the bud.) The same week at school, however, Frankie starts to realize that something is up as rumors start flying that Benjamin fingered a girl on her period. On top of that, there are memes about the situation that start making their rounds, horrifying Frankie.
While all of this is happening, Frankie is also dealing with the fallout of a huge fight with her best friend Harriet. At the time when Frankie needs Harriet the most, she’s not there, causing Frankie to navigate the whole sphere of public shaming by herself.
I have a tendency to really enjoy novels told in verse. It sometimes adds a touch of whimsy, other times it is just an interesting way to tell a story. For Blood Moon, I don’t think that it added to the story in any way. I would have felt the same way about the novel if it had been written in prose. The writing style wasn’t bad, I just felt incredibly neutral about it.
More than how Frankie managed the public shaming debacle, I’m glad that Lucy Cuthew focused so much on her troubled friendship with Harriet. I love books that feature healthy friendships, especially young adult books. All friendships have their rough patches, especially in our turbulent teenage years, and realistic portrayals of this is always a healthy aspect to include in a story such as this one.
Frankie’s relationship with her parents and how they react to learning of her sexual exploit and everything that followed was another incredibly strong aspect of this story. Sex isn’t a big deal, and everyone does it. Her parents’ reaction mirrors this perspective, and is a much better way of dealing with teenage sexuality than universally punishing it.
The reason I can’t give this book a full four stars was due to the way the ending was wrapped up too quickly and perfectly. Without giving away too much of the ending, it has to do with Frankie and Harriet’s friendship. I just feel that everything was resolved much too easily.
Overall, Blood Moon is a wholesome and positive novel perfect for pre-teens and teenagers. It reads young, so if you’re an adult fan of YA keep in mind that it’s written for the lower end of the age group. I’d love to see this sort of taboo-tackling, feminist, positive narrative become a new trend for the young adult audience. I know that I would have loved to have access to a book like this when I was a teenager.
A big thank you to Walker Books for the advanced review copy.