Only Natalie Lloyd could make a post-apocalyptic dystopia story (with elements of psychothriller) sweet and inspiring.
Thank you Kidlit Exchange and Scholastic for the ARC of OVER THE MOON. All opinions are my own.
Twelve-year-old Mallie is a brave and hardworking dreamer, but she lives in the vaguely Appalachian impoverished mountain town of Coal Top. Ever since The Dust came, the people of Coal Top have had to live out the stories they were told — working in indentured servitude in the mines or as poorly-treated servants to wealthy families in the valley.
Then Mallie meets a charming man named Mortimer Good who gives her and some of her friends each a starbird (I pictured a pegasus) and teaches them to mine the skies for gold. SHe becomes hometown hero Mallie Over The Moon and is sure she has a way to earn enough money to stop The Guardians (Coal Top’s evil police force) and their dust monsters from kidnapping her little brother Denver to work in the mines.
When she discovers that Mortimer is not the savior he seems, and that Coal Top’s misery is built on a web of lies, she needs to rise up and fill her role as a hero.
Caveat: This book gets dark in places. Mallie’s little brother, Denver is kidnapped to go work in a mine. Her employer is a verbally abusive gaslighter. Mortimer Good is at best a manipulative liar, probably a sociopath.
A child who’s lived under an oppressive government, with any kind of abuse (especially emotional or psychological) will probably be triggered.
The Guardians at times remind me of (an extreme version) of an abusive work environment I am glad is in my rearview mirror.
Diversity: It’s not really central to the story, but Mallie was born with a limb difference and wears a “pop-snap” prosthetic arm. She has a great attitude about it, not wanting people to take notice or pity her; but she touches briefly on the fact that if you look different, you often need to work harder to prove yourself. This is not something we tell our kids enough, and it’s to their detriment.
A forward note from the author herself gives Natalie’s own experiences with being differently-abled.
Give to: Fans of THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON (yes, it is that dark). Also, fans of Natalie Lloyd (duh).
OVER THE MOON is available now from Scholastic.