I have wanted to read Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley since it was released in Australia and started making waves all over the book blogoshpere. Everyone who read it only had praises for it and I became more and more eager for the US release (which is February 14). I was graciously given access to an e-galley by the publisher via NetGalley. It has been downloaded and ready to read for a few weeks but after I had it in my hands I became nervous, worrying I would be disappointed and that it would never live up to those high expectations others praise and months of waiting had built. It did. Oh how it did. And I really wished I hadn't waited until after 10 at night to decide to start reading it.
Lucy is out with her two friends celebrating the end of Year Twelve. Her friends are out for the boys, Lucy is out for just one, the mysterious Shadow who has decorated the city with his beautiful graffiti art. She knows a boy who sees the world like that, who can paint like that, will be a boy she can talk to and share herself with. Unfortunately, because her best friend wants to hook up with his best friend, she is stuck hanging out with Ed. Ed who she never wanted to see again after the worst first date ever in the history of the world. Ed isn't anymore excited than she is, their one date was actually a worst first date for him than it was for her, but there is something about her that pulls him like a magnet and she still has an affect over him. Then Ed tells her he knows some of the places Shadow goes and is willing to take her to them. Lucy and Ed are soon on a tour of Shadow's work through the nightscape of Melbourne having all the conversations about art and life Lucy has always dreamed of, but the clock is ticking for Ed. In hours he will have to make a decision that will decide the course of his future and his future with Lucy , if he has one.
Ed and Lucy have become instant favorites. The book is told in alternating first person narratives between the two and their chapters often overlap, so you get a scene from her perspective and then his. This repetitiveness is not at all boring, it is enlightening and shows the reader so much about each of them individually and them together. Interspersed through this are poems written by Ed's best friend Leo that give insight into many of the other characters and events. Ed and Lucy are complicated and layered characters, complete in their strengths and weaknesses. Lucy is willfully blind to what is staring her in the face because she has a fantasy built in her head she doesn't want to let go of. Ed is stubbornly clinging to a bleak and ugly future because he is afraid to hope for anything else. They jump off the page as do Leo and Jazz (and even Dylan and Daisy). The dialogue is sometimes witty, sometimes poignant, always pitch perfect. Crowley is one of those authors who doesn't waste words, each one counts, and she manages to create these defined and real characters without over writing them. I love this.
Then there is the way this book is a love song to art in all forms. Crowley's descriptions are vivid and paint pictures in the mind. I could see clearly every single one of Shadow's paintings and even Lucy's blown glass creations. The setting is also vividly describes giving the reader the sensation of actually being there. I could see and hear the city clearly in my head.
Here are some examples of the writing I particularly liked, though I stopped bookmarking pages after the first 50 so I could just enjoy the ride:
I'm so close to meeting him, and I want it so bad. Mum says when wanting collides with getting, that's the moment of truth. I want to collide. I want to run right into Shadow and let the force spill our thoughts so we can pick each other up and pass each other back like piles of shiny stones.
Paint sails and the things that kick in my head scream from can to brick. See this, see this, see this. See me emptied onto a wall.
I like that about art, that what you see is sometimes more about who you are than what's on the wall.
I kept dreaming her and me were tangled like that. Kept dreaming of this spot on her neck, this tiny country. I wanted to visit, to paint a picture of what I found there, a wall with a road map of her skin...Then one day she looked up from her book and caught me making travel plans.
I spent the weekend after our date wishing I could stab him with my fluffy duck pen and staring at the phone hoping he'd call. Dating is very tricky business.
You get the idea. I loved this book, unequivocally loved it, the writing, the characters, the emotion, the speed of it. It is well worthy of all the praise (and awards) it has earned.
Note on Content: This is a book for older teens. There is some strong language and references to sex and alcohol.