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Reviewed by:
  • Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
  • Karen Coats
Crossan, Sarah Moonrise. Bloomsbury, 2018 [336p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-68119-366-3 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-68119-367-0 $12.59
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8–10

When Joe was seven, his brother, Ed, stole their aunt’s car and left the family’s dysfunctional home in New York. A few months later, he called from Texas, saying he’d been accused of something he didn’t do. Now it’s ten years later, Ed is scheduled for execution by the state of Texas for killing a police officer, and he’s asked that Joe come visit. While Joe has understandably mixed emotions about seeing a brother he doesn’t really know anymore, he feels compelled to go. Accessible free-verse poetry traces Joe’s final weeks with his brother as he unearths memories of how Ed took care of him before he left, acting as both father and mother and protecting his siblings from their addicted mother’s abuses and neglect. Ed’s fate is undeniably tragic—he is actually innocent but was threatened into confessing by violent cops, and his confession is enough for him to be denied appeals and clemency. Though Crossan intimates that the fact that the murdered officer was white was a factor in Ed’s swift sentencing, Ed is also white, making the central issue of the book the death penalty itself and the way it creates more victims than the initial crime. By telling Ed’s story and focusing attention on the kindness and grief of people who have likewise lost relatives to execution as well as the toll it takes on the warden and his daughter, Crossan complicates the sites of empathy and ethics around this issue, making this rarely told story a useful discussion starter. [End Page 423]



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