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Private I. Guana: The Case of the Missing Chameleon by Nina Laden
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Steeple, Volume 2: The Silvery Moon by John Allison
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Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon
With Lots of Love by Jenny Torres Sanchez and Andres Ceolin (Illustrations)

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Valley of the Moon: 03/10/22

Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon is set in a fictional farming commune near present day Jack London State Historic Park. The novel is told from alternating points of view: Joseph Bell, the founder of Greengage Farm; and Lux, a single mother raising her son in San Francisco.

On April 18, 1906, the San Francisco Bay area was hit by a massive earthquake. At Greengage the land rolls but there is miraculously no damage. Instead there collects a thick and deadly fog. The commune residents are stuck and cut off from the rest of the world.

When Lux arrives a few months later, strangely dressed with news of things inconceivable, Joseph and the others learn their commune has become a California Brigadoon. Here, though, the time passage appears to be tens of years per month, rather than a century at a go.

Read enough of these romances across time and you'll be able to predict what will come next. Valley of the Moon for all its flowery language and attention to the details of each era, isn't revolutionary. It follows a well trod path.

With the time travel aspect, Valley of the Moon is also on the Road Narrative Spectrum. Lux, who as the novel progresses, decides to bring along her son, thus making the traveler a family (33). The destination is, naturally, uhoria (CC). The route is the cornfield/tkaronto (FF) represented by the fields of the farm, and the lakeside forest of the state park. All together, Valley of the Moon is a novel about a family traveling through time via the cornfield (33CCFF).

Four stars

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