For a debut novel, What the Moon Said hit all the right buttons for me. I imagine part of the perfection I found in it lies in the background of Mrs. Rosengren. She has an impressive background in writing and library work. Remember the advice of so many authors? Read, read, read! I was left with the impression that this author has done her homework in that area.
What the Moon Said takes place during the depression years of the 1930s. A small family of city dwellers move to the country when the father loses his job. Young (almost 10) Esther isn't pleased to leave behind her best friend and her comfortable way of life, but it helps tremendously when she discovers the farm her parents purchased comes complete with an assortment of animals, including a dog - something she has always longed for.
Esther's ethnic background is German and Russian. Her Russian mother loves all her children, but Esther can't help but feel that she doesn't quite measure up to the rest of the tribe. She wonders if her mother's strong superstitious nature enables her to detect what Esther perceives as her own shortcomings. Those thoughts might never have entered her mind if she could remember even once when her mother had enfolded her in her arms in a warm hug.
I enjoyed traveling back to a time that was certainly simpler, but also much tougher, than anything I've experienced in my own life. The characters are well-developed and realistic in their thoughts and actions. The contrast between their lives in Chicago and rural Wisconsin was fun and informative. Even though the main character is not quite ten, and the writing level is easy enough for that age, I would recommend it for those at least that age, or possibly a bit more mature reader.