Monday, 5 December 2011

Review: Moondreams by Dean Johnson

Extent: ebook (453 KB)
Publisher: Self Published
Pub Date: 6th March 2011

Kirah, just home from her freshman year at college, contemplates the strange lamp and the unfamiliar mirror in her bedroom, at least what used to be her bedroom, what used to be her sanctuary. But things are not what they used to be. Even her best friends seem to be different, especially Ramon who suddenly has more than a friendly interest in her.

Fortunately, Kirah’s mother and stepfather make good on their offer of a month at a New Jersey shore beach house in exchange for an appearance on the dean’s list each semester. A little distance from Ramon, parents, “her” bedroom, is just the distraction she needs.

Along with a couple of friends who still appear somewhat normal, Kirah heads down to the shore.

Bryan had been working at the Auto Center for the past year after dropping out of college midway through his sophomore year. While he has grand ideas about his future, his actions do not match his ambitions. Searching for direction, Bryan clings to anything that comes his way, including a girl with two friends in a car with a flat tire.

To Bryan Kirah is everything he needs to be. To Kirah Bryan is the distraction from all the change she is longing for. Through each other they find what they were looking for, only it wasn’t what they thought it was at all.

A few chapters into this book I was scratching my head, I couldn’t figure out what the plot was let alone where it was going. But I persevered and I’m glad I did because by the end I had realised something: that books are not always about plot, but they are always about stories.

Moondreams focuses on the lives of two people, a girl and a boy, Kirah and Bryan, and how all the events of their lives lead up to their meeting. The story bounces back and forth through time, flashing back to significant events. At first I didn’t understand what was happening. Why do I need to be told about all these details? Why is this reading like a fictional biography? Where is Dean Johnson going with this? At the same time I was intrigued, perhaps this was building up to something. I was right. This story is essentially about a moment and everything that builds up to that moment. It’s actually really clever and I take my hat off to Dean Johnson for doing it so well. A book is usually a snapshot of someone’s life, a period when something exciting is happening with a beginning, a middle and an end but Moondreams takes that snapshot and explores how it came about, the decisions that Kirah and Bryan made earlier in their lives that brought them to a point where their paths crossed. It really makes you think about your own life’s course, all the significant choices you made that led you to meeting someone and what would have happened if you’d done something differently. It’s almost like an exploration of fate, if you believe in it.

There’s another part to this story, however, that gives the meeting of these two people a point and makes Moondreams a real heart-warming tale. Kirah and Bryan have both reached crucial points in their lives, massive junctions and they can’t make one of those significant decisions that shape their existence. They are stuck in holes but their meeting provides the shovels each of them needs to dig themselves out. Perhaps their meeting is the most significant event of their lives, deciding what they will do with the rest of it. It’s easy to visualise the story as two lines gradually heading towards each other and when they cross it’s only for a very short time but it’s a turning point, and then the two lines forever head out in different directions.

Moondreams is a brilliant piece of writing and an even more brilliant idea for a story. It has taught me that stories don’t always have to be about action and adventure, a snapshot of life, they can be about someone’s whole life, a fine weaving of innumerable decisions and chance events that determine where your next step will take you. It’s really not just a story but the story, the one that begins at the very beginning, has an infinite number of middles and an ending at every turn that’s completely open – life.

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