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Estelle: Like Moonlight at Low Tide… by Nicole Quigley

Like Moonlight at Low Tide… by Nicole Quigley
Publication Date: September 25, 2012 (Kindle version comes out 10/2012)
Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 256
Target: Young adult
Keywords: bullying, absent parents, high school, popularity, siblings
Format read: ARC from DJC Communications. (Thanks!)

Summary: After 3 years away, Melissa returns to her old town where the whispers and bullying never ceased when she was a kid. Embarking on her junior year of high school, she wonders if she has changed from that tormented young girl and if a new life with the same crowd is really possible.

It’s no surprise Melissa isn’t totally thrilled with her move back to Florida.

After 3 years away, she has no faith that the bullies who made her life miserable have grown up in the slightest or that she is confident enough to ignore their comments.

Despite having the support of her old best friend and her boyfriend, Melissa’s life starts to change when Sam King — the literal king of high school — starts to show interest in her and the murmurings from the peanut gallery start to die down. All of a sudden she’s sitting at the cool kids table, has exclusive invites to the best parties, and best of all, is kissing Sam, the boy she has always had a crush on.

But I wouldn’t call her happy. Sure, she’s coasting through high school now but she can’t ignore her mom’s revolving bedroom partners or the fact that she never knows what kind of mood her brother Robby will be in. She hates her clothes, doesn’t love how she looks, worries about her family’s reputation in town, and still feels happiest and most at home when she is swimming.

Or hanging out with Josh, the mysterious surfer boy from next door. Cue the love triangle! Josh is thoughtful and sweet, and seems to always be watching out for Melissa but she’s never sure if he actually likes her more than a friend. He doesn’t belong to any one exclusive group in school; he’s the kind of guy who is just friends with everybody. I loved how Quigley made Josh an active member in his church youth group as well. His religion never dominated who he was, and only supplemented his character. (This made me think about the role of religion in books and how I prefer to learn about a character’s beliefs without feeling like I’m being preached to.)

A really serious event halfway through the book made me question the paths Quigley chose for her characters. I would rather trade such significant and painful developments for more attention being paid to small details, character voice, and the story’s structure. Because even the aftermath felt a bit incomplete. While the novel reeled me in and I cared for Melissa, I couldn’t help but think how much stronger her story could have been and how much better I could have gotten to know her. Much of the time she felt like a shadow of herself, relying on situations to steer her in certain directions and not her own gut.

Would she ever confront her past? When would she learn to trust herself?

Once I reached the ending, I was still questioning if she had learned much at all.

While the overabundance of storylines gets weighty, Quigley does manage to raise many important questions through Like Moonlight at Low Tide… about bullying, selfish parents, our personal beliefs, and the quest to find our own peace.

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September 12, 2012 - 2:16 pm

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books - I remember when you told me a little bit about this book, and I think you did a great job reviewing it! I’m pretty curious about this one, especially because you mentioned how the religion bit is handled very well. Thanks for sharing!

September 11, 2012 - 7:17 pm

VeganYANerds - I am happy to see you review this as I’ve been offered a review copy, too!

I like the sound of the story but I understand your feelings of needing more – great review, Estelle!

September 11, 2012 - 5:55 pm

Kristen - I think I’ll read this if I can find it at the library. I’m intrigued by how the bullying aspect is handled, and interested to see what this major event is and how it’s handled. It’s disappointing that you say you’re not sure if Melissa had learned anything by the end. Books are so much better when characters grow and learn. But, it does sound like this book poses a lot of questions, and I like books that make me think. Thanks for the review!

(What happened to the review of Beautiful Music for Ugly People? I wanted to comment on that one!)

September 11, 2012 - 10:21 am

Estelle - Anneqah. I actually quite loved that she was a swimmer too. Those scenes were always very poetic and flowy and I wish there were more of them. This character desperately need to find some solace in her life, and the water gave he that. I do hope you’ll pick up the book when it gets to your library. 🙂
Thanks for stopping in!

September 11, 2012 - 10:20 am

Estelle - “Without making him a Jesus freak.” YES. TO THIS. I was frightened of this but quite happy the way that it turned out. Many of the character’s reactions to his dedication to his religion were completely right on. It felt like it was me responding to them. Thanks for stopping in, L!

September 11, 2012 - 12:37 am

Lisa - This sounds like one of those books that might make the reader think, but the frustration that the narrator didn’t make any headway could be a downer.

I do like the youth group nod as well. A piece of who he is without making him a Jesus Freak. Well done, author!

September 10, 2012 - 6:51 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - I think I’ll be taking your advice with this book, Estelle, and requesting this one from the library (if my library ever gets this book!). Surprisingly, I haven’t read too many books where bullying is really the main focus, so I think I’d like to try more of that type of stuff, as bullying is such a huge part of our world, unfortunately. I think the self journey that Melissa (supposedly) makes sounds intriguing, and the fact that she’s a swimmer is really cool! I’ve always loved swimming, so I think I could relate to Melissa. This major event, however, sounds like it’s not very well developed at all, and I could definitely see how this would deter your enjoyment level of the book.

Fabulous review Estelle! <3

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