Author: Therese Walsh
Provided Synopsis: Therese Walsh’s poignant and mesmerizing novel is a moving tale of family, love, and the power of stories. After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother’s spirit to rest.
Though they see things very differently, Jazz is forced by her sense of duty to help Olivia reach her goal. Bitter and frustrated by the attention heaped on her sunny sister whose world is so unique, Jazz is even more upset when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper. Though Hobbs warns Olivia that he’s a thief who shouldn’t be trusted, he agrees to help with their journey. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, and they will finally be forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.
Review: Jazz and Olivia Moon are sisters and as different as can be. As the elder of the two, Jazz has always felt trapped by her mother’s expectations, while Olivia — who has a neurological condition called synesthesia, which allows her to see sounds or taste smells — was allowed to be free to wander and dream. The recent and unresolved death of their mother has left the entire family weighted with grief, and one day Olivia decides to travel with her mother’s ashes to the location of the fairy tale story her mother had been working on. Despite her hatred of the plan, Jazz is forced to tagalong due to the duty to protect Olivia that has been engrained in her for so long. What follows is a journey to learn the beauty and pain of dreams, along with the destruction and redemption of love.
Unfortunately, I was not as in love with this story as I thought I would be. The Moon Sisters alternated between the narrative voices of Jazz and Olivia, and both sisters were difficult for me to like or to connect with. Exasperation settled in very early for me, and it only seemed to get worse once a tattooed train jumper, named Hobbes, and an elder train jumper with dubious intentions, joined the sisters on their journey. These secondary characters had way too much baggage that distracted from the story and seemed completely unnecessary. I did not care about the mystery that surrounded Hobbes and I really did not care for the instant-love Olivia developed for a man whom she claimed “tasted like tomorrow.” I very nearly gave up the book the moment Olivia met Hobbes and it became obvious what was to happen between them because I did not want to go there.
Problems aside, the prose is very well done and there were some great quotes about life, grief, dreams, and the power to choose. This book did not do much in terms of making me feel something deeply profound as a result of the action of the characters, but since it has so many wonderful reviews from other readers I might suggest giving their reviews a look before you decide. This book might have the power to be something incredible for a certain type of reader; it just so happens that I did not fit the bill.