Sunday, July 30, 2006

Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman

Please pardon the small image; I couldn't find a larger image of the correct cover photo.

Reading about heat on a hot summer day is not usually what I consider entertaining and I've already elaborated on how much I disliked the experience of Savannah Blues. So, I was thoroughly surprised to find that Turtle Moon, which is set in the very steamy--and, I assume, fictional--town of Verity, Florida, elicited a completely different sensation. Why was I so mesmerized that the pages flew, in spite of the fact that I could practically feel the dirt and sweat and vaguely imagined I ought to be scratching chigger bites?

Two words: characterization and story. This is my first Alice Hoffman book and I can hardly wait to get my sticky little mitts on another. The characters in Turtle Moon are absolutely amazing: believable, flawed, almost without exception damaged and all extraordinarily three-dimensional human beings whom the author describes in such vivid, quirky detail that you can't help but feel attached to them. Hoffman has a brilliant yet subtle way of creating characters with history who manage, in spite of their negative characteristics, to be likable. Even the character described as "the meanest boy in Verity" grabs hold of your heart and doesn't let go.

The story is equally brilliant: part mystery, with romance, suspense and redemption added to the mix. In brief: A place where more divorced women from New York have landed than in any other Florida town, Verity is home to Lucy Rosen and her son, Keith. Lucy has moved to Verity to escape her ex, with whom she had little in common other than the strain of dealing with their troublesome son. Keith hates Verity, the heat, his mother, school, and pretty much anything else you can think of. When a woman in his building is murdered and her baby is left behind, Keith runs off with the baby. Officer Julian Cash and his two fierce dogs set out on Keith's trail. Thus begins a journey fraught with danger but with moments of tenderness.

A funny, touching and surprising story that often strikes one as realistic simply because it is so original and, at times, even bizarre. Real life, after all, is pretty strange. Highly recommended, even on a very hot day.


  1. I haven't read this particular Alice Hoffman, but I have read others by her. She really is a good author. Maybe I will try and read this one this summer. I own it...

  2. The copyright for Turtle Moon is 1992, so I guess it's an "older" Hoffman book. Shoot, yeah, go for it, Kailana. I thought the book was wonderful. You can come back and tell me your thoughts when you finish. :)

  3. It's been quite a long time since I read Turtle Moon, but as I recall, it was my first book by Hoffman, too. And I remember that I loved it, but the details of the plot are a bit sketchy now. I remember the situation of the woman and her son fleeing the abusive relationship, but I'd completely forgotten about the baby! I've read more by Hoffman and will peruse my journals to see which I'd recommend.

  4. I'll look forward to hearing which Hoffman books you liked best, Lesley. The baby was one of the things I loved best about Turtle Moon, because of her relationship with "the meanest boy in Verity", which I found fascinating.

  5. I've only read one Hoffman book, Blackbird House, and I put it on my list of books I hated! reader's rated it 4.5*. What do I know?! Maybe I better try another one.

  6. Well, Turtle Moon is quirky, Booklogged! Maybe Hoffman's writing isn't your thing. I've definitely found that I'm better off hanging out on readers' listservs and reading reviews at blogs than going by Amazon reviews. You get to know who has similar taste, that way.


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