The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante is a great middle grade novel that is perfect for those tweens who want to read YA and but might not be ready for all that comes with a YA novel.
Thirteen-year old Dellie blames herself for her little brother’s death. Now, he mother cries all the time and her parents are in therapy. And because of what happened to her brother, Dellie is no longer allowed to play outside or do any of the things the rest of the kids in the building are allowed to do. Her mother needs to know she is safe and it doesn’t matter that Dellie’s friends are starting to leave her behind, or that there is a boy interested in her.
Dellie lives in a building that is slowly becoming more and more unsafe. The setting is almost like a character and Vigilante does a fantastic job of bringing it to life. When a new family moves into the housing project, Dellie befriends Corey, the five year old boy. He reminds Dellie of her brother and she starts sneaking him food and inviting him over when her parents are not around. But when Dellie discovers that Corey’s mother is abusing him, she isn’t sure what to do. Can she help him in a way she never could her own little brother? Can she save Corey? Or will helping him only put her in more danger?
This is an emotional story and you ride the roller coaster of emotions with Dellie. Her brother’s mysterious death is a cloud hanging over the whole family and Dellie struggles with her feelings. She feels awful about what happened but she also wants her life back. She wants to hang out with her friends, she wants to find out why her best friend is mad at her, and she wants to get to know the boy who likes her. Is it wrong for her to be angry at her mother for tethering her to their second-floor apartment? Can she spend the rest of her life watching the world from her window instead of participating in it? And more importantly- should she get involved in Corey’s life? He needs someone to help him, but should it be Dellie?
Dellie’s mother’s grief is heart-breaking. As an adult I can understand her grief and her desire to keep Dellie safe. But I also know that her grief is preventing Dellie from growing up. Tween readers will identify with Dellie’s desire for freedom and will love her for her selflessness.
Highly recommended for middle grade readers.