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Ginny Moon

Review

Ginny Moon

Fourteen-year-old Ginny Moon knows, on one level, that she is lucky. She goes to a good school, with teachers who care for her and friends who understand her and are usually kind to one another. She loves her Special Olympics basketball team, and she knows she is good at the game. She has a Forever Mom and a Forever Dad who want her to succeed and have promised to take care of her for, well, forever.

Ginny is lucky. After a series of foster homes and a truly horrific early childhood with her birth mother, Gloria, she’s finally in a place where she feels safe and wanted, where people understand her unusual mind, her need for routine and clarity, and her desire to always know exactly what time it is. But something inside Ginny is stuck --- stuck back at Gloria’s house when Ginny was nine years old, back when Gloria’s boyfriends were scary and Gloria sometimes disappeared and Ginny had to take care of her Baby Doll when no one else would or could.

"Ludwig clearly understands and validates the unique thought processes of special kids like Ginny. Although her behavior is not always admirable, her thinking is always clear and entirely rational within her own idiosyncratic world view."

So despite her current situation, her hard-won stability at home and school, Ginny can’t stop thinking about her Baby Doll, and rescuing that helpless little baby so she doesn’t get hurt the way Ginny once was. Things only get worse when Forever Mom and Forever Dad announce that they’re having a baby, something they never thought was possible. Suddenly Forever Mom seems cautious or even scared around Ginny, Forever Dad is dealing with high blood pressure, and Ginny is taking bigger and bigger risks to try to return to Gloria and her Baby Doll --- and the Ginny she once knew.

Debut novelist Benjamin Ludwig is a long-time English teacher. He and his wife decided to foster a teenager with autism several years ago, and he discovered the genesis of Ginny’s story while attending his foster child’s Special Olympics practices. Ludwig clearly understands and validates the unique thought processes of special kids like Ginny. Although her behavior is not always admirable, her thinking is always clear and entirely rational within her own idiosyncratic world view. Ginny is also unerringly honest and good at telling when other people are not being equally truthful, even if she can’t always articulate or understand why they might be lying.

The technique of using a naïve or youthful character’s perspective to build dramatic irony is not particularly novel. Still, Ludwig does so especially well, filtering, in particular, the dialogue of Ginny’s Forever Parents and, eventually, her Birth Dad, through Ginny’s perspective in a way that will resonate with readers differently, perhaps than it does with Ginny herself. Ludwig also illustrates characters who are, pretty much without exception, flawed in some fundamental ways. The adoptive parents are not saints, nor is Gloria an unrepentant sinner. All the characters, however, including Ginny, are trying to do the best they can with the resources they have at hand.

Ginny is, in some ways, a lonely character, compelled in the end to come to her own conclusions despite the best efforts of her social worker and her foster parents to usher her thinking forward. But that’s what Ginny’s story reveals throughout. Despite her unique way of seeing and thinking about the world, she’s not really alone. She is surrounded by love, even if she can’t always recognize or name it.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 4, 2017

Ginny Moon
by Benjamin Ludwig

  • Publication Date: December 26, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Park Row Books
  • ISBN-10: 0778330885
  • ISBN-13: 9780778330882