HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Full Moon, Half a Heart
Author: Vila Gingerich
Publisher: Plain Day Press, 2019
Related website(s): http://www.vilagingerich.com (author)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Gingerich, Vila. Full Moon, Half a Heart (Published in 2019 by Plain Day Press). Celeste, a sixth grader, lives in a trailer home at the edge of town on the Kansas prairie with her dad and mom, younger sisters Farrah and Karolyn, baby brother Monty, and cat Spicy. Her beloved Grandpa and Grandma live nearby, and Aunt Wendy often visits when home from her work on an Indian reservation. Celeste attends the Sunflower State Mennonite School where she loves her teacher Mr. Smith and her best friends Lexi and Renita, although bossy Tony often teases and annoys her. But life seems almost perfect until one day, suddenly Dad makes the announcement that the family is moving north to run a stinky dairy farm in Wisconsin—even before school is out.
Celeste has to finish the year at the Hilltop Mennonite School with the nervous Miss Penner, and she struggles to adjust to a place where school feels like prison, winter lasts forever, and her only pal is her Siamese cat. Can Celeste find anything to like about this place? Will she make friends with her new classmates like Sally or Rita? And does she ever get used to that barn full of scary cows to feed? Author Vila Gingerich, who grew up in Mennonite communities across the Midwest, loosely based the plot on a very fictionalized version of an eventful year in her own childhood. This book is a sequel to Growing Toward the Sun, in which Celeste and her friends solve the mystery of the Reno County thief.
Gingerich says that Full Moon, Half a Heart is realistic fiction, a coming-of-age story aimed at readers aged 9-12 years. It began as a book for her people. Mennonite kids seldom get to read about children like them. But then she realized that she wanted to share her culture in a way that would interest others. The book includes occasional references to God, Christian living, and Mennonite history; but the purpose is to entertain, not evangelize. I enjoyed reading it. Those who are interested in Mennonite life and background will especially like it, but it is a good story for any young person. With so many tough changes, Celeste must grow and be strong, no matter how it hurts, and thus she learns important lessons in kindness and responsibility.