Also by this author: Starry Eyes, The Lady Rogue
Published by Simon Pulse on April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
SERIOUS MOONLIGHT Review
Jenn Bennett has quickly become one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. Her stories are always so heartfelt and filled with wonderful characters in relatable situations, as well as a strong focus on family and friendships. I have yet to read a Jenn Bennett book that didn’t leave me with a smile on my face and her latest book, Serious Moonlight, was no exception.
Serious Moonlight follows Birdie Lindberg, an 18-year old teen, who lives with her grandfather on Bainbridge Island, just outside of Seattle. Birdie, who was orphaned at the age of 10, has lived a very sheltered life out on the island, and was home-schooled by her overly strict grandmother. She therefore hasn’t had many opportunities in life to make friends and/or date. Birdie’s grandmother has recently passed away when the story opens and her grandfather has agreed that it’s time for Birdie to “spread her wings” a bit and thus he gives her permission to get a summer job. She lands a job at a historical hotel in Seattle, working the graveyard shift.
When she starts her new job, Birdie finds herself immediately drawn to the hotel’s van driver, Daniel Aoki, a handsome young man she had a chance encounter with a few weeks earlier, but that ended on a most awkward note. Daniel is drawn to Birdie as well, but neither of them is sure how to proceed after that first less-than-stellar meeting.
Can they figure out a way to move from awkward acquaintances to friends and then maybe even to more than friends?
Honestly, I loved pretty much everything about this book. I was on my way to a serious reading slump when I started reading it, and Birdie and Daniel’s story just pulled me right out of it. They were both just so adorable!
Birdie was my favorite character. She’s an introverted, mystery-book loving teen who aspires to be a real-life Nancy Drew. I loved getting glimpses into her fantasy life where she imagines that she’s following clues and solving mysteries, and where she creates Nancy Drew-like profiles in her head to describe everyone she meets. She also always wears a flower in her hair every day, inspired by the legendary jazz singer, Billie Holiday. Just thinking about Birdie and how endearing of a character she is makes me smile.
Also endearing though is Daniel. Daniel is this sweet, soft boy who loves to do magic tricks and who is so obviously hung up on Birdie. He is so tuned in to what her interests are and even arranges what can only be described as the absolute perfect outing for her, a live action game of Clue. What could possibly be more perfect for a mystery-loving girl? I just loved that he recognized how unique and special Birdie is and was so patient with her in every way. Some of their heart-to-heart conversations as they get to know each other better are my favorite moments from the book.
Bennett is a master at creating secondary characters that add even more life to her stories, and in this story, Aunt Mona is that character. Mona is Birdie’s aunt and godmother, and she is just a force to be reckoned with. She’s an artist with a personality and fashion sense that is larger than life. Mona literally just brings so much color into Birdie’s life. For you Gilmore Girls fans out there, personality-wise, she reminds me so much of Miss Patty. She’s not just an aunt or a godmother either; she’s also Birdie’s best friend and confidante.
The setting of Serious Moonlight was also a huge draw for me. I loved the Seattle location, but I especially loved that Birdie lived on Bainbridge Island and took a ferry to and from the city every day. The view from her home is literally the Seattle skyline with its iconic Space Needle. It was so easy to visualize that spectacular setting and I loved that the ferry ride provided moments for Daniel and Birdie to spend even more quality time together.
I also really loved the Moonlight Diner, a neighborhood diner in Seattle where Birdie would hang out whenever she needed to wait for the next ferry home. Before Birdie’s mom passed away, she worked at the Moonlight and she and Birdie lived in an apartment upstairs. Birdie, therefore, practically grew up in this diner and everyone there was part of her extended family. I loved that the diner had such character and especially that they served the most delicious sounding pies. Seriously, this book will have you craving pie like you would not believe! I was practically drooling at the descriptions. And the pie names are so great too! They had me hoping Birdie would stop by the diner every single day just so that I could see what the pie of the day was called, lol. I think my favorite was the Beyonce-inspired name, a cherry pie called “Put a Bing on It.”
The mystery subplot involving the famous reclusive writer was probably my least favorite part of Serious Moonlight. That’s not to say there was anything really wrong with it, more just that some of the situations Birdie and Daniel found themselves in as they tried to solve the mystery seemed a little far-fetched. It was still a fun subplot though so I wasn’t too hung up on it.
Serious Moonlight is everything I want in a contemporary read. It’s a sweet story about two people trying to find their way in the world and their way to each other. It’s also a heartfelt story about family, friendship, and love. If you’re in the mood for a story that will leave you with a smile on your face, Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight is the book you’re looking for.
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.
Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.
In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.