Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent

book cover

Catching Moondrops
by Jennifer Erin Valent

ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-3327-4
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Released: Oct. 2010

Author Website

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
It’s been two years since Jessilyn Lassiter last looked evil in the eye, but she knew better than to think it was gone for good. At nearly nineteen, Jessilyn is more in love with Luke Talley than ever, and he is finally beginning to care for her in the way she always dreamed he would. But their romance is interrupted when Tal Pritchett—a young black doctor—comes to Calloway, stealing the heart of Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma, and stirring up the racial prejudice that has been simmering just beneath the surface.

The tension escalates when Miss Cleta, Jessilyn’s neighbor, becomes the first white townsperson to accept Tal’s treatment, an offense that quickly leads to violence at the hands of the revived Ku Klux Klan. As Jessilyn dreams of vengeance, she begins to realize that in order to bring true peace, she’ll have to win the battle that’s waging in her own heart first.

Catching Moondrops is a historical novel set in 1938 in Calloway, Virginia during a period of high racial tension. It's also an awesome story and a fast read. It's the third novel in the series, but you can easily follow it without having read the first two novels. However, the impact will be higher if you've followed Jessilyn's story from the beginning. The previous two novels are also very well written, so start with Fireflies in December and Cottonwood Whispers.

The pacing and world-building were excellent. I was completely pulled into the story. The characters were engaging, realistic, and complex. They dealt with realistic struggles, like losing a best friend, wondering how the future will turn out, dealing with traumatic events, and standing up for the right thing even when it's dangerous. The tension was created by a number of "normal" worries and changes in everyone's lives with spikes of high tension when lives were in danger.

Sad things happen in this novel. It's mostly about dealing with the really hard things in life, like seeing hatred spill over to harm the innocent, why God doesn't bring immediate justice to wrongdoers if He's real, and what hatred and bitterness can do to a person's life.

Many of the characters were Christians and several tried to get Jessilyn to make peace with God. However, I think many non-Christians share Jessilyn's view, so they might enjoy this novel as much as Christians.

The ending was very satisfying. There was a very minor amount of fake bad language. There was no explicit sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this well-written, clean novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
There’s nothing in this whole world like the sight of a man swinging by his neck.

Folks in my parts like to call it lynching, as if by calling it another word they can keep from feeling like murderers. Sometimes when they string a man up, they gather around like vultures looking for the next meal, staring at the cockeyed neck, the sagging limbs, their lips turning up at the corners when they should be turning down. For some people, time has a way of blurring the good and the bad, spitting out that thing called conscience and replacing it with a twisted sort of logic that makes right out of wrong.

Our small town of Calloway, Virginia, had that sort of logic in spades—after the trouble it had caused my family over the years, I knew so better than most. But the violence had long since faded away, and my best friend, Gemma, would often tell me that made it okay—her being kept separate from white folks. “Long as my bein’ with your family don’t bring danger down on your heads, I’ll keep my peace and be thankful,” she’d say.

But I didn’t feel so calm about it all as Gemma did. Part of that was my stubborn temperament, but most of it was my intuition. I’d been eyeball-to-eyeball with pure hate more than once in my eighteen years, and I could smell it, like rotting flesh. Hate is a type of blindness that divides a man from his good sense. I’d seen it in the eyes of a Klansman the day he tried to choke the life out of me and in the eyes of the men who hunted down a dear friend who’d been wrongly accused of murder.

And at times, I’d caught glimpses of it in my own heart.

The passage of time had done nothing to lessen its stench. And despite the relative peace, I knew full well that hearts poisoned by hateful thinking can simmer for only so long before boiling over.

In May of that year, 1938, the pot started bubbling. I was on the front porch shucking corn when I saw three colored men turn up our walk, all linked up in a row like the Three Musketeers. I stood, let the corn silk slip from my apron, and called over my shoulder, “Gemma! Come on out here.”

Read the rest of chapter one.


Michelle V said...

I love Jennifer Erin Valent, love this series and loved this book! It was my pick for favorite book I've read this year. I think it's a fabulous book!

Michelle V

Genre Reviewer said...

Hi, Michelle.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I've read a lot of good books this year, and this novel was one of my top favorites. I'm eager to see what Jennifer Erin Valent writes next.

Jennifer Valent said...

Debbie, thanks for being so supportive of the books! I'm so happy you enjoyed them!

Genre Reviewer said...


You're welcome. I appreciate that you're willing to (trying to say this in a way that doesn't spoil things for others) show the truth of what is in people's hearts in your stories.