Monday, September 3, 2012
Tomorrow begins another year of school and more reading adventures with young people. The book I read this weekend has been perfect for this time of year. In Laugh With the Moon, Shana Burg introduces Clare Silver, a young girl who is starting school in a completely different place: a village school in Malawi. Having grown up in Boston, this adventure with her father (a physician giving his time to a global health organization) is not especially what she desires, especially since she is mourning the death of her mother. The silent treatment does not work on her dad; he remains caring and optimistic. Only when she meets a girl much like herself - named Memory - does she begin to feel comfortable in this new place. Add to the mix an opportunity to teach English to the primary students, a housekeeper named Mrs. Bwanali whose love shines on Clare, and a mother's voice that reaches Clare just at the right times. The result is a novel that rises above the dire circumstances to demonstrate how it is possible to laugh with the moon, even when things are at their lowest.
While watching a ceremony after the mourning period for a friend, Clare notes this:
"I used to think that happy people dance and sad people cry. But now I see that people aren't like stiches on a hem. They don't always follow a pattern. They don't always weave in and out, holding the pieces of their lives together in the way you might expect. Sad people can laugh and dance, and that doesn't mean they're suddenly fine. And happy people can cry, and that doesn't mean they're not okay." - p. 218