STARRED REVIEW
August 24, 2022

Moonflower

By Kacen Callender
Moonflower poses a big question—what is the purpose of being alive?—then invites readers to ponder their own responses as they follow protagonist Moon’s fantastical journey.
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With Moonflower, National Book Award-winning author Kacen Callender (King and the Dragonflies) creates a surreal, dreamlike wonder of a novel.

Twelve-year-old Moon, who is Black and nonbinary, longs to leave the world of the living, where they have “a hard time being happy.” Every night, they transcend their body and travel to the spirit world, a place where new lives are created, old lives are reincarnated and some lives are just in between. Humans ordinarily can’t enter the spirit world, so Moon is invisible to the spirits that dwell there, but the more time Moon spends there, the more visible they become.

Moon is determined to find a way to stay in the spirit world forever. They learn that a mysterious being known as the Keeper might be able to help them do so. Should Moon trust the Keeper—or could the Keeper have ulterior motives?   

Moonflower is a captivating story, and Callender’s respect for young readers is clear on every page. The novel poses a big question: What is the purpose of being alive? The expansiveness of Callender’s story invites readers to ponder their own responses as they journey through fantastical worlds alongside Moon. Callender delicately balances awe and astonishment with the reality that human existence is often painful, but life is ultimately worth living. 

Callender dedicates their novel to “the younger me who didn’t want to be in this world anymore” and to “anyone who has also wanted to leave this world.” Moonflower is the rare novel that meets young readers in what might be their darkest moment and leads them, with honesty and empathy, back toward the light. 

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Moonflower

Moonflower

By Kacen Callender
Scholastic
ISBN 9781338636598

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