What do you think of when you hear the title Purple Moon? I didn’t know what to expect when I purchased this novel by Tessa Emily Hall at the Write2Ignite conference in 2018. Purple Moon is full of plot twists and keeps you in suspense. The reader is constantly surprised throughout the novel.
Even on my second read of Purple Moon, the beginning gripped me, and I couldn’t put it down. The protagonist, Selena, instantly roped me into her story, which is told from her point of view in the present tense. This is not a format I am used to reading, and it took me a while to get used to. I was really surprised the first time I read Purple Moon. I didn’t like the plot twists or the style, and I almost didn’t finish it. Thankfully, I persisted, and I began to enjoy the book more as the story progressed.
Selena struggles emotionally and physically as she spends the summer with her aunt, uncle, and cousin—whom she isn’t very fond of—while her mother is in a rehab center for alcoholism. Selena and her mother have been separated from her father and brother for eight years, and this adds to Selena’s bitterness. The plot pace is fast, and I constantly wondered what was going to happen next. The mysterious “secret” mentioned on the back cover kept me reading as well. The ending is satisfactory and wraps the story up so well that I am curious to see what is written in the sequel, Fallen Leaves.
Selena’s friend Austin encourages her to become a Christian and grow closer to God. Austin is my favorite character because he contributes greatly to Selena’s character development. Austin is also a very interesting character because of how readers see him from Selena’s perspective: Selena thinks Austin is perfect but eventually learns that he has flaws, too. While Austin encourages Selena in her faith, others, such as her friend Hayden, try to turn her back to her old habits (like smoking) and away from God.
All the characters in Purple Moon are realistic and complex—even minor characters like Hayden—and each character’s complexity makes the story more interesting as you get to see how the characters develop. I enjoyed seeing both Whitney and Hayden change by the end of the story.
Selena’s struggles with faith and God are also easy to identify with. Her past experiences with Christians make her see them as hypocritical and judgmental. Why would God allow Selena’s parents to separate and change her life? Does God really care about Selena? Everyone has doubts like Selena, and the fact that she continues to struggle with her faith after getting saved makes her more realistic.
Purple Moon addresses Christianity, alcoholism, smoking, drugs, and anxiety since Selena struggles with anxiety and breaking her drinking and smoking habits. The way the author links these topics together through Selena’s conflicts engaged me. I recommend Purple Moon to ages sixteen and up. That is about how old I was when I read Purple Moon for the first time, and I understand and appreciate the book more now that I am older.
Don’t miss Tessa Emily Hall’s Write2Ignite Master Class next month! I have heard her speak at two Write2Ignite conferences, and she is a very gifted speaker. She’ll be giving away an autographed copy of Purple Moon as a door prize at the class.
2 thoughts on “Purple Moon: Book Review by Kathryn Dover”
Sounds like a complex YA novel. Thanks, Kathryn, for giving us an intriguing review.
I bought my copy of Purple Moon at the same conference! I own the sequel too. Such a satisfying end to Selena’s story!