Cath Crowley is the author of Chasing Charlie Duskin and the Gracie Faltrain series.
Crowley (A Little Wanting Song) returns with a moving contemporary spin on disguised-identity romances (think You've Got Mail), first published in Australia. The novel is told in the voices of two creative older teenagers-Ed, aka secretive graffiti artist Shadow, and Lucy, a fledgling glass blower-interspersed with the poems of Leo/Poet, Ed's best friend and graffiti partner. Set over the course of one long night, Crowley's story slowly develops the relationship between Ed and Lucy, enemies since a disastrous date two years earlier. Lucy is obsessed with Shadow and his art; she tells Ed, "I just want to meet one guy, one guy, who thinks art is cool." The teens' artistic sensibilities are richly and affectingly expressed; readers will agonize over their obvious compatibility and long for them to recognize each other as soul mates. The beauty and danger of the nocturnal urban landscape is an effective counterpoint to the growing attraction of the sensitive yet bristly pair. Secondary characters-close friends, artistic mentors, and well-meaning parents-are strongly rendered, layering the steadily engrossing story with credible complexity. Ages 14-up. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 8 Up-This adventure, set in Australia, is one for the art crowd. Lucy, Jazz, and Daisy plan to celebrate graduation by staying out all night. And while they're at it, Lucy is determined to meet Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist who has tagged the city with his soulful works. Jazz is set on finding Poet, Shadow's partner and the wordsmith of his wall art. Daisy just wants boyfriend Dylan to remember that it's her birthday. Dealing with his dyslexia by quitting school, Ed has lost his job in a paint store and is talked into robbing the art wing of the high school this particular night with Leo and Dylan. They decide to hang out with the girls until it's time for the heist. Ed takes Lucy on a search for Shadow and along the way they visit a number of his paintings around the city. Chapters that alternate between Lucy and Ed (who, unbeknownst to Lucy, is Shadow) rely heavily on art-themed metaphor to describe the encroaching darkness, city scenes, traffic lights, and impending dawn. Part gallery tour, part crime caper, and part romance, Graffiti Moon is an artsy spin on the common young adult theme of self-discovery. The references to artists and specific works may intimidate readers who have little related knowledge, but it might also nudge them to learn about Vermeer and others. The aesthetic tone of the story is punctuated with comic relief and some coarse language. While Lucy's and Ed's inner dialogues sometimes seem unrealistically metaphorical, readers will appreciate the original and sympathetic characters. A paint-covered thumbs up!-Karen Elliott, Grafton High School, WI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.