For some reason, Shooting the Moon sat on my TBR pile since last May. I kept meaning to read it and never quite got to it. However, when it was nominated for a Cybil in the Middle Grades category, it finally made its way to the top.
Why did I wait so long to read this?!
Shooting the Moon is about Jamie Dexter, an army brat whose father, the Colonel, has been moved around from base to base. She is army through and through, and would go fight in Vietnam this instant if she was old enough. Her father loves this about her, but she is always struggling to get his attention, as her older brother is a star football player and real “daddy’s boy”. During the summer, Jamie’s dad helps her get a job at the base rec center, volunteering with the soldiers. It is here that she meets a new friend and learns how to develop her own film. This newfound photography talent is something she hopes will make her father proud.
Jamie’s whole life changes when her brother, TJ, enlists and is scheduled to be shipped out to Vietnam. Her world is turned upside down when her army father doesn’t want TJ to enlist. This goes against everything Jamie believes about her family. And while TJ is in Vietnam, he sends Jamie film to be developed–pictures that he takes of his daily life. The pictures begin to tell the story of the war of of TJ’s life there.
This is a powerful story that will remind many readers of today’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the story of how war affects an entire family and how a family deals with a young son that volunteers to be sent to war. It is the story of a young girl growing up and finding herself. And there is the amazing thread of photography woven throughout the book. It is historical fiction that doesn’t read like historical fiction. I imagine it will connect with students who love war books, coming-of-age stories, and realistic stories. It will appeal to boys and girls alike. Plus, it is a slender book and a quick read that just happens to pack a powerful punch.