In many ways, this book is a sad story. Julia is an English Literature professor, recovering from the recent death of her husband Matthew. Her parents were not the most nurturing parents; in fact, her father was hard to please and her childhood memories of home consist mainly of trying to stay out of trouble and watch out for her two younger siblings. At age seventeen Julia’s younger brother Jeremiah leaves home, never to return.
When Carmen, Jeremiah’s daughter, shows up on Julia’s doorstep, her welcome is dubious to say the least. But the story doesn’t stop there. Carmen has her own dragons to slay and her own background is far from pleasant.
Two vastly different characters, two similar childhood stories, two sets of reactions to circumstances.
“In Julia’s youth, parenthood was always the cornerstone of whatever future she imagined for herself, in spite of the fact that her own parents did little to cast it in a positive light. Though she might become other things, too, she knew she would surely be the mother of children. Maybe it was only an extension of her lifelong impulse to revise the unsatisfactory, but regardless of its source, it was a persistent dream – to be half of a happy team of parents such as those she saw on television or occasionally in the homes of neighbors and friends, sometimes even in public places among strangers.”
However, due to her own tragic experiences, Julia has never become a mother. With no parental experience, how will she guide Carmen who is in such need of a stable home and comfortable family life?
Julia herself has some lessons to learn, (among them, how to resolve her past), and Carmen is more than willing to help. This is where my ‘reality’ meter kind of kicks in; I have a hard time believing Carmen is as self-confident and assured as she seems, especially with the kind of experiences she has faced. It’s true that Julia overhears Carmen’s release to her overwhelming grief in the dark hours of the night, but Carmen also throughout much of the books seems to have all the answers. Julia, the much older and experienced college prof, seems to be always groping for the right response.
Regardless of my differences with characterization (after all, anything can happen in fiction – or in real life), Jamie Langston Turner has proven herself once again to be a master at keeping the reader’s attention, weaving within a fictional story our common human failings, while keeping the suspense moving. I have to say I did not really appreciate the sad ending, nor did I see it coming! This book was full of surprises as little by little, the author uncovers for the reader the inner motivations for Carmen and Julia.
Although it could be said (especially by those who may object or even avoid this author altogether) that this writer may have been a bit heavy-handed with her portrayals of Christianity, this book itself does not have a strong evangelistic slant. Carmen does show a tremendous amount of faith (considering one so young), but this book although thought-provoking, is a lighter read.
“To See the Moon Again” was a fast read for me and gave me the impetus to start yet another Jamie Langston Turner novel.