Feb 13, 2012

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Book cover of Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Title: Graffiti Moon [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Cath Crowley [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published: February 14th, 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (Originally published in Australia, August 1st, 2010 by Pan Macmillan Australia).
Format: Kindle edition.  
Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley.
Challenge: Completely Contemp Challenge.

I paint to get the thoughts in me out.  I paint so it gets quiet under my skin.
Lucy and her friends, Jazz and Daisy, have just finished year 12 and are looking for a night of adventure to celebrate.  Lucy wants nothing more than to find her favorite graffiti artist, Shadow.  Daisy says her boyfriend, Dylan, knows Shadow and his partner, Poet.  Dylan and his friends, Ed and Leo agree help the girls find Shadow and Poet, but they have their own agenda for the evening.  Lucy knows very little about Shadow.  She knows he’s about her age, scruffy, and that he does the most beautiful work in the city.  Lucy knows that if they met, they’d have something to talk about, and it would be perfect.  What Lucy doesn’t know, is what’s right in front of her.

My experience with Graffiti Moon could be summed up using a number of variations of the sentence: “I don’t like _________, but I liked it in this book.”  For example: I don’t like poetry, but I liked it in this book.  I don’t like predictable plots, but I liked it in this book.  I don’t like art speak, but I liked it in this book...etc.

Graffiti Moon had a fluid language that reminded me somewhat of stream-of-consciousness.  The narrators flowed between present and past tense seamlessly in a way that was incredibly well written, but that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.  The chapters told by Ed and Lucy would overlap in time just enough that we would get to see scenes from either perspective, hear dialog twice and understand each of their thoughts as the night moved on.  For some reason it brought to mind layering two phone books’ pages one by one over one another until the two can’t be pulled apart.  I’ve never been a real artsy person.  Sure, there’s art that I love, but I just don’t think like an artist, and I don’t understand those who do.  For me, this put Graffiti Moon somewhat out of reach, and I don’t think I connected with it in the way I think many others have or will.

I really liked both Ed and Lucy, but each of them also made me sad.  Ed seems to have already given up on life, and Lucy is fixated on an idea rather than a real person.  That said, they both have very strong relationships with friends and family that I both admire and envy.  I loved that the characters of Graffiti Moon each came from a difficult situation, but each found their own ways of dealing with it without letting it destroy who they were or wanted to be.

I normally will highlight paragraphs or pages, whereas Graffiti Moon held a ton of short snippets that caught my attention:

Mum says when wanting collides with getting, that’s the moment of truth.  I want to collide.
I like that about art, that what you see is sometimes more about who you are than what’s on the wall.
Sometimes a memory is a thing that can’t be explained using words.
The pieces I paint come out of my head right.  No spell-check required.  I hear people talking about the feeling they get when they paint stuff in illegal places.  Leo says he gets this fast-moving fear swinging through him, running his heart to everyplace under his skin.  I paint to get the thoughts in me out.  I paint so it gets quiet under my skin.
“Are you doing that thing where you try to feel small so your problems seem unimportant?”
“Humor without sadness is just a pie in the face.”
For me, reading Graffiti Moon was like visiting a beautiful foreign country.  I love to go there and see all the colors, food, people, but in the end I want to go home again because I don’t speak the language, and I know I’ll never learn it properly.

Likelihood that I'll be back for more:  Yes!  This was my first Aussie YA, and I’ve heard so many good things about what’s coming out of that country.  I would love to read something more from Cath Crowley, and plan to read more Aussie YA in general.

Recommended for:  Art lovers, people who like books that take place in a 24-hour time span, people interested in Aussie YA.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  The only artist I knew of mentioned in this book, besides Picasso, was Dale Chihuly, the glass artist.  I did my undergraduate degree in Tacoma, Washington, where he is based and was lucky enough to get to see some of his art almost every day as we had an installation on campus and Tacoma houses the Museum of Glass and the Bridge of Glass.  I love it, and I’ve always thought glass was a beautiful medium.  
Dale Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, Washington
Bridge of Glass, Tacoma, WA


  1. I have heard such wonderful things about this one - I cannot wait to read it :) Glad to hear it is great.

  2. I love your "don't like" paragraph! This is why I read books out of my comfort zone sometimes, I want a book to change my thoughts on things! I DO like art speak though, :)

    This is your first Aussie book?! May I suggest Melina Marchetta? Saving Francesa I loved! Or Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager(difficult to get ahold of though).

    1. Thanks, Jac! It was out of my comfort zone, but I didn't struggle, I was completely immersed and enjoyed it!

      Thanks for the suggestions! I have a feeling when I read Tomorrow, When the War Began, it'll be one of those 'why didn't I have this growing up?' experiences. I've seen Raw Blue all over, but Saving Francesca's available digitally through my library, so I'll check that out!

  3. This sounds like a really interesting book. And I do typically like books that take place in a short time span, so that makes me want to read it even more.

    Also, I've always been a Chihuly fan. Amazing. :)

  4. I love the quotes you pulled, Heidi. I've had this book forever, I really need to read it since everyone raves so much! I'm glad you mentioned that you don't normally like certain things (like poetry, art speak, etc) but enjoyed it in this book, because I don't usually like stuff like that either. :)

    I have an Aussie YA book on tour right now, btw, although fair warning there are a lot of bloggers signed up, hah.

    Wendy ♥ The Midnight Garden

    1. Thanks! Yeah this book wasn't 'my thing', and so I don't think I loved it as much as others have, but I did really like it and it was totally worth leaving my comfort zone for.

      I'll have to follow the tour! I enjoyed reading a lot of the Aussie YA posts from bloggers toward the end of 2011, and really want to experience more of it.


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