A Story to Live By
BY Dani Buehler
Hello Library land and Argus readers! It has been a few months since my last posting and I am excited to be back at it. Maternity leave went very well and my family is settling into our new normal. And now, let’s talk literature. Every now and then, I read a book that just MOVES ME. And Kelly Barnhill’s, “The Girl Who Drank the Moon”, is one such book. As the 2017 Newbery Medal winner, you would hope it was good. And I am here to tell you, this timely little novel packs one heck of a punch and is a must read for all audiences.
So, now you are probably thinking, “Ok Dani, enough intro, what is the book about?” This is a book about family, a book about consequence, a book about power, a book about a bog and a swamp monster, and a book about magic; but most importantly, this is a book about story. Particularly, the stories that we live by. Or maybe, it’s the stories that we tell. But then again, it could be the stories that have yet to be told. All I can say, is that it is a story about stories. And what we learn is that stories have power, for both good and evil. In Barnhill’s own words she tells us that she “wanted to write a story that grappled with the idea of false narratives – and how the Greedy and the Wicked and the Power-Hungry can so easily entrench their access to resources or money or power or respect by simply controlling the narrative” (32). Consequently, through her novel, Barnhill teaches us that the story is only as powerful as we allow it to be. And in a time when truth seems to be as elusive as a bird just taking flight, we as a greater community must acknowledge the power we give to our storytellers.
And what could be more important to a story than its characters. “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” is slippery and offers multiple possible protagonists, each offering a unique narrative that speaks more to the journey the reader is on than the character itself. Opening this lovely novel up reveals not a tunnel into an imaginary world but a mirror reflecting the reader and challenging their current narrative. This novel is delightfully witty and wonderfully written. It captures the imagination all while enlightening our current reality. As I said earlier, it truly is a must read.
Barnhill, Kelly, and Gidwitz, Andy. “Newbery Magic.” School Library Journal, Mar. 2017, pp 30-34.