The Trouble with Half a Moon

By Danette Vigilante
Putnam • 2011 • 181 pages
Hardcover ($16.99)
ISBN: 978-0-399-25159-7
Ages 9-12

Like most 13-year-olds, Dellie has a lot on her mind: school, parents, friends, and boys. But Dellie’s life is further burdened by the sometimes-violent nature of life in the housing projects where she lives, and by the death of her little brother Louis several months earlier. Dellie’s brother’s death has rendered her mother too fearful to allow Dellie to go outside alone, to walk to school without her father, or to visit friends. But things begin to change with the arrival of new residents to their building, including five-year-old Corey, who stirs painful memories of Louis in Dellie and is alternately abused and neglected by his mother, and Miss Shirley, an elderly native of Jamaica, whose flamboyant style and quiet wisdom draw Dellie in.

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The young girl struggles to balance conflicts with classmates, her mother’s overprotectiveness, her concern for Corey, and her guilt over Louis’s accidental death with her delight in the approach of summer and the attentions of classmate Michael. The various threads of her days weave more tightly together as the neighbors join together to protect Corey, and as Dellie’s mother realizes—partly through her own contact with the little boy—that she has to set Dellie free to allow her to enjoy life.

Upper elementary and middle school girls will, like Dellie, feel Corey’s tug at their hearts, and will share Dellie’s joys and frustrations over school and family life.

Reviewed by Coop Renner, Retired Librarian: El Paso Independent School District