Let me start this review by telling you a little bit about Deborah Ellis. Ellis read about the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan and their treatment of women and girls. She was so deeply affected by it that she went to Afghanistan and spoke to women, hearing their stories. She then wrote a number of books on the subject and donates most of her royalties towards causes that help the disenfranchised.
I didn’t know this before I read the book. I also didn’t realise that it was based on a true story.
The story is somewhat fictionalised but the general story is true.
Moon at nine is about 15 year old Farrin who falls for Sadira a new student at her school. Being gay is punishable by death in Iran in 1988. Set to the background of the country in a state of war with an unstable government and the Revolutionary Guard watching for any suspicious activity it is a dangerous time to find your true love in the arms of another girl.
I will tell you straight away that it has a sad ending. I wish I was pre-warned. However, it is a well written tale of young love and the truth that can only come from young girls who are still completely innocent to the harsh reality of their world.
Farrin was the main character and the book was seen through her eyes. She takes us on an interesting journey with well defined sub characters.
The Writing Style
I like the way Ellis writes. The story is clean and well paced. Ellis writes well. She may lack the poetry of some authors, but she makes up for that with a clean writing style that eliminates superfluous explanations or descriptions.
I enjoyed the background and the research that went into the book. Ellis managed to create a very clear feeling of the time and what was happening in the country. Moon At Nine is a well written book and I would read it again.
The ending is sad. Given the subject matter and the fact that it is based on a true story, I can forgive that.
It is a young adult novel and therefore about teenagers, even so, it is a love story and the purity of the teenager’s belief that everything can work out for them is so touching that you cannot help but cheer them on. It is worth a read if you are looking for something that gives you insight into life in a war torn country or if you want something a bit unusual. I also love that the sales of this novel will help women.
Excerpt from Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis
Farrin followed the sound of the music a short way down the hall and around the corner. The supply closet door was slightly open. The music was coming from inside. She was about to push open the door to see who was doing this forbidden thing when she stopped. She couldn’t bring herself to interrupt just yet; she wanted the music to keep going.
The tune being played on a santour, an Iranian instrument with many strings. I was a classical piece. She recognizes it from the records her parents occasionally played in secret – one of the many forbidden things they did.
The tune was played so beautifully, so perfectly, that Farrin wondered if it was a recording. She had to know. She opened the door wide enough to peer in.
A student was playing, a girl from the senior school, judging by the color of her head covering. Farrin couldn’t see who it was. Light from the bare bulb that hung from the ceiling cast a shadow across the student’s face. If the girl noticed that someone was watching her, she gave no sign. The music went on seamlessly.
Farrin watched and listened, transfixed by the sounds. The school disappeared, Pargol disappeared, everything disappeared but the notes that entered her like rays of pure moonlight. She closed her eyes and let the music draw her in. Then it ended and she was back in the doorway. “Looking for something?”
Farrin opened her eyes. The student musician raised her head.
Farrin felt something like a jolt of electricity through her body as the most intense green eyes looked right into hers. For a moment, Farrin forgot how to breathe. “Yes, I need…no, I mean…you can’t play that.”
“I’m not very good yet,” the musician said.
“No, no, you’re great, but you can’t…I mean, it’s forbidden. You’ll get into trouble.”
“If it’s really forbidden, the school wouldn’t have a santour,” the girl said. “I think the rule against music is more a suggestion than a rule. That’s what I choose to think, anyway.”
Get Moon At Nine from Amazon
Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781927485576
Publisher: Pajama Press
This book review was based on a review copy that the publisher was kind enough to send me.
Awesome links:Deborah Ellis online