Like Moonlight at Low Tide… by Nicole Quigley
Publication Date: September 25, 2012 (Kindle version comes out 10/2012)
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.