Lunaside (Young Adult 222 pages) by J.L. Douglas was recommended reading from one the Ace Bookclub I found on Tumblr for the month of April. I didn’t get a chance to read it then with the rest of the people in the bookclub, but I had some free time and so I read this last night.
“Moira Connell just wants to drink tea, draw pictures, and hang out with Andrea, her girlfriend. But that’s before her mother accuses her of wanting to spend her time making out with girls, rather than planning which universities to court in senior year. A job as an art counselor at Lunaside, the summer camp down the road from Moira’s house, is supposed to help Moira prove she isn’t procrastinating, and that she isn’t ‘girl crazy’ either. Then the eccentric owner of Lunaside ropes her into starring in the camp’s new web series before she can say ‘on-screen panic attack.’ But it’s exactly the kind of huge responsibility Moira’s mother thinks Moira is allergic to, so she jumps in anyway. Of course, the fact that Andrea is directing the web series, combined with Moira’s sudden, mutual attraction to new counselor Millie, might not help her case. And the way her best friend keeps trying to set her up with Millie certainly isn’t helping, well, anything. And amidst all of this, she’s still got an art camp to run. On her own. But how hard could that be? One summer can change everything. Moira’s hoping hers doesn’t end in a worst-case-scenario disaster.”
I have to start out by saying that this is not a typical type of book for me. I tend to steer really far away from books that focus on teenage interpersonal relationships, so it takes me a bit of time to adjust to the stories that take place in the real world.
This book had a lot of characters who are not hetero-norm, which was very refreshing. The main reason this book was recommended to the Ace Bookclub was because one of the secondary characters, Layla, is asexual. When Millie and Moira have their first conversation around page 26, Moira’s internal comments about Layla are: “And here I’ve been thinking of Layla as this grown-up four-year-old who mysteriously manages to hack it in the real world. Endearingly silly, but maybe not much more than that.” This section actually made me laugh because I tell people all the time that I’m basically a large child. I mean, my apartment is filled with Legos and books and most things that my peers find entertaining such as drinking, partying, and getting laid are not anywhere close to being on my radar for things I enjoy. I tell people all the time that I don’t adult well, and it amused me greatly when I related to Layla through most of the scenes she appeared in.
It’s been a long, long time since I was a teenager myself and I didn’t exactly go through the same emotional and relationship issues that my peers experienced back then, but this book seems to do a pretty solid job of portraying the confusion of everything going at that point in the character’s lives. The story was written in such a way as to make me really feel the emotional confusion Moira experiences between her girlfriend, Andrea, and the other counselor, Mollie, who has a crush on Moira. I related to all of the characters because I am definitely an awkward, nerdy geek-girl who doesn’t interact very well with people. Moira’s lucky in the sense that she has a lot of people around who care about her and all of them are ridiculously talented with their specific crafts. Bailey is incredibly talented with fabrics, costuming, and clothes. Jude is a star athlete. Jeremy and Andrea are both incredibly talented with film. And everyone in the book seems attractive, but I think that has more to do with how the characters are described.
Take Andrea for instance. Throughout the book, she was described as passionate and dedicated to her craft and nothing would get in the way of that. She was remarkably attractive to me for her dedication and her unwavering loyalty. I thought that her checklist of things to do with her girlfriend was adorable and I think that one of the things that made Andrea attractive is seeing her through Moira’s eyes. I guess that’s one of the really great parts of this story is that Andrea doesn’t falter for a second in her care of Moira, nor in her dedication to her work. She makes a balance between the two and Moira also respects her work and encourages her passion. They are partners. Andrea and her geekiness also reminded me of someone who was a great friend several years ago. Someone I miss terribly.
The chemistry between Moira and Millie was definitely well-written and it was an interesting internal dilemma created between the obvious chemistry with Moira and Millie and how much I wanted Moira to be loyal and true to Andrea. Andrea mentioned several times that she was worried Moira would find someone more attractive and then when Millie shows up, it makes things confusing for everyone because the chemistry is that obvious.
But chemistry isn’t everything. And that really shows through this story.
Overall, this was a good look at the lives of teenagers who completely accept that not everyone is hetero-norm and it was an interesting read. I finished the whole book in one sitting. I would probably rate it as a solid three on my rating scale. I’m happy that I bought it and I might actually read it again at some point.