Book Review: Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, yet one of the reasons I picked up this book is because of its gorgeous cover illustrated, according to the hardback edition, by Peter Strain. The other reason for wanting to read this is because I had heard good things about Sarah Crossan’s previous book, One, but which I hadn’t yet had a chance to read.




Moonrise, like Crossan’s other novels, is written in blank verse giving the prose a sense of immediacy and beauty.

Opening a page at random we get the following:

I went to her,
tried to get her to stand,
she wouldn’t.
She couldn’t.

Mom stayed
down for a

Beautiful, isn’t it?

The story centres around 17 year old Joe and his relationship with his wider family and, centrally, his brother, Ed, who is on death row in a Texas prison. We watch Joe and Ed’s relationship develop through flashbacks as the clock ticks inexorably down towards Ed’s execution date. We see, also, Joe’s burgeoning relationship with a girl he meets when staying in town to visit Ed and we learn about the unbearable burden a family is put under when one of their members is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

Crossan’s sparse and understated prose is ideal for telling this story that deals with themes of guilt, anger, forgiveness and redemption. While primarily targeted at a YA audience I think that adult readers will find it equally affecting. I, for one, was moved to tears at its denouement and I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

Moonrise is published in hardback by Bloomsbury.