Book Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon
Title: Graffiti Moon
Author: Cath Crowley
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr and Twitter
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Format and Price: Paperback at $16.99

About The Author:
Cath Crowley is an award-winning author of young adult novels, The Gracie Faltrain series, Chasing Charlie Duskin and Graffiti Moon. She lives, writes, and teaches creative writing in Melbourne. Her next book, The Howling Boy, will be out in 2016.

About The Book:
Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.
Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.
Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it. Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.

An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be. A lyrical new YA novel from the award-winning author of Chasing Charlie Duskin and the Gracie Faltrain series.

General Observations:
~It’s Personal: Now I will admit, there is a small amount of personal bias involved here. I met Cath Crowley once at a Melbourne Writer’s Festival workshop when Graffiti Moon had just come out. Cath Crowley kept the room entertained and engaged with inspirational anecdotes, like when she was out late looking at inner city graffiti art and she thought was going to be robbed by a trio of teenagers. It turns out they didn’t want to rob her, but they did ask her if she could pretend to be their mum so they could get a tattoo (to which she politely declined).

Cath Crowley also spoke of the thought process of how she wrote Graffiti Moon, the motivations behind Lucy learning glass-blowing and how she changed the relationship of Lucy’s parents from divorced to dysfunctional by overall happy (which I thought was the better choice). Anyone wishing to hire Cath Crowley for Writing Workshops, I highly recommend her, you can contact her through her website (links are above).

~Engaging Narrative Elements: The narrative takes place over twenty-four hours, the pacing is fast and well written to make the plot urgency. I liked how even though the readers are introduced to the basic premise to the plot (“Will they rob the school and get away with it?), the author keeps throwing in other things like Malcolm Dove and Beth (the Beth situation was handled really well). The characters were interesting and they all bonded well together (the three guys, the three girls, the six of them together).

~Representation Matters: Now, there’s not a lot of representation in terms of race, in fact it might just be me looking for something that’s not there (or perhaps I’m being racist and buying into stereotypes). I’m not sure if Jazz is an ethnic minority (not a lot of evidence outside of the fact that she has dark hair and braids), but I like to think of her as an ethnic minority. However if Jazz is a woman of colour, am I buying into the Magical Negro stereotype?

Are Leo and his brother Jake of Aboriginal or Samoan background? I got in the impression they were described as large solid guys with dark features but live with their grandmother due to alcoholic parents. Am I racist for thinking they could be Aboriginal or Samoan? After all, there are plenty of white families with dysfunctional alcoholic parents.

While I understand the importance of Young Adult readers being able to slot themselves into the skins of the characters, I think that vague character descriptions are a bigger problem, if Cath Crowley had been more specific with certain details, it would have made it easier for me to understand the characters and their struggles. However I could have this all wrong (and my apologies if I have come across as racist), maybe all the characters are white, which leads to a bigger problem. After all, Cath Crowley is writing about inner city artists, who have a history of living in low socio-economic areas that are heavily populated by ethnic minorities.

All in all, a great read that I regret not reading sooner by an engaging Australian Author. However, I want to ask Readers if the issue of race in Young Adult books (or books in general) bother you? Is the racial issue I have with this book just me? Feel free to leave a comment.

Links:
“Race in YA Lit: Wake Up & Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin, White Authors!” by Sarah Ockler

It Matters If You’re Black or White: The Racism of YA Book Covers by Annie Schutte
RMFAO Genre Challenge 2016
AWWC 2016

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