Title: Hunger Moon
Author: Sarah Lamstein
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 110
This book pleasantly surprised me. I don’t think it deserved the low rating it got on Goodreads. Hunger Moon did a good job developing its main character over the course of just over a hundred pages. I felt like I got to know Ruthie and got an insightful look into her lonely and often difficult life.
Hunger Moon is set during the 1950’s and follows a girl named Ruthie who wants to be the next Lucille Ball. Her parents fight all the time and one of her brothers, Eddie, is mentally disabled. I actually thought he might have been autistic even though the specificities of his disorder were kept ambiguous.
He was very good with maps but challenged with everything else. He also had dietary issues and had trouble chewing and swallowing his food. Eddie’s issues are often difficult for the family to deal with, and Ruthie blames him for causing all their problems. I felt sad about the way Eddie was treated throughout the story.
It wasn’t his fault that Ruthie’s parents were selfish jerks who mistreated their children. At least Ruthie’s grandmother was loving and supportive. She was really the only bright spot in her life. I really liked how this book was made up of little vignettes, evoking a small moment or feeling.
Ruthie was a convincing protagonist and I appreciated how imperfect she was. She really showed her immaturity at times, but she usually tried her best. The ending was inconclusive but realistic, refusing to give any easy answers for the difficulties Ruthie faces. It definitely left me wanting more, but not necessarily in a bad way. I wanted to learn more about these characters and see if things would eventually get better for them but at the same time, I understood why the author chose to keep things ambiguous. It fit the tone of the book.