Luna has learned a lot in her thirteen years-how to skin a rabbit, how to gut a fish, where to pick the perfect wildflowers-but it's not enough. When her best friend, Mason, dies, Luna leaves her large family and moves in with Mason's mentally disabled mother, Ruby Day. Caring for her takes a bit more learning and a lot more patience. Eventually they come to a backwards parenting relationship, working out the glitches and growing closer day by day as they help one another to grieve for Mason-until the arrival of a conniving aunt who wants Ruby Day locked away in a mental institution. How can a thriteen-year-old girl stand up to Ruby Day's aunt? What would Mason want her to do? And why is saying good-bye so difficult?
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I'm an unabashed fan of the Bright's Pond series by rising star and author Joyce Magnin. That's why I found it scary to open her middle grade novel, CARRYING MASON. But--as is often the case when we face our fears--I'm so glad I did.
Not only does Magnin have the chops to write for the children's market, but she kept me reading from first page straight through to the end without a break. Yes, plane trips can provoke such attention, but I had options.
When thirteen-year-old Luna's best friend and companion Mason dies, she has options, too. But as she sees it, her decision to move in with Mason's mentally disabled mother, Ruby Day, and care for her in his stead involves nothing more than simple obedience.
"Mason died, and now she's by herself, and Jesus said to help the widows and orphans, so that's what I intend to do." This determined veteran of the road less traveled has plenty to learn, and Magnin grants us the privilege of joining her journey.
As the story unfolds, we see the unspoken cruelties of a life like Ruby's and the gentle but flawed way Luna and others respond. We remember that love endures when all else fails. And we're reminded that everybody matters to God.
Kudos once more to Magnin for creating characters I'd know if I met them on the street, for writing dialogue so real I can hear it as I read, and for pouring truth through story in a way that moves me to step back in awe.