Title: Serious Moonlight
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
This book finally came out this past week and I’m so excited to finally talk about it! First and foremost though, I’d like to thank my friend Rachael for sending me her copy when she was finished with it. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and I’m so grateful that I got to read it early. Rachael is incredibly sweet and she wrote a lovely review that you should definitely check out! 🙂
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.
Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.
In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
Jenn Bennett has quickly become one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. Her compelling writing and well-developed characters are just part of what I love about her fun, adorable love stories.
I have to say that Birdie was my favorite character, although I’m a little biased because I totally related to her. I always love reading about characters who share my passion for reading and Birdie is a total bookworm. Not only did I see myself in her that way, but like Birdie, I have a sleep disorder. For that reason, the narcolepsy representation was one of my favorite aspects of this novel. I have yet to read another story that has any character with a sleep disorder, let alone a MC. You could tell from Bennett’s discussion of the topic that she knows a lot about narcolepsy or at least thoroughly researched it. I think Serious Moonlight will definitely spread some awareness of this disorder and I think that’s amazing.
This was not the only representation in this novel and I really enjoyed the diversity included overall. The main love interest, Daniel, is half-Asian and deaf in one ear. Many of the side characters were POC as well. I won’t be too specific in order to avoid spoilers, but there was also discussion of a certain mental health issue, and I thought it was handled really well.
Another positive aspect of this novel, and all of Jenn Bennett’s books for that matter, is that it’s very sex-positive. While some YA novels make sex seem taboo, Bennett writes about it in such a healthy way. Not only do her characters recognize their ability to make their own decisions, but they also practice safe, consensual sex.
The mystery that Birdie and Daniel decided to solve together was fun and interesting. At some point, they stopped making progress with it and I thought it would have been exciting if there had been a few more discoveries along the way. However, I recognize that this is a contemporary with a hint of mystery, so it makes sense that the focus was on Birdie and Daniel’s relationship.
My main complaint about this story honestly has to do with personal preference. I’m not a big fan of the trope where the girl is afraid to let people in so she’s really cold. In Serious Moonlight, it makes a lot of sense why Birdie builds a wall around herself, and it’s important to her growth as a character. This trait fits the story and it was well-written, it was just hard for me to read. This ties into another thing that frustrates me: when characters don’t communicate well. Birdie and Daniel never just told each other what they were thinking and so much anxiety and conflict could have been avoided if they’d simply talked about their problems. Instead, sometimes they’d go days without talking just because they didn’t want to confront their issues and this drove me crazy. To be fair though, I’m sure many first serious relationships lack good communication, so it was realistic and it fit the storyline. Overall, these aspects of the story bothered me because I wanted to see the characters happy together, but it wasn’t a flaw in the writing at all.
I really enjoyed Serious Moonlight. As soon as I finished it, I knew I had to start Alex, Approximately right away. If you like Jenn Bennett’s other novels, you’ll probably like this one too. And if you haven’t read anything by her yet, you should definitely pick up one of her books!
Have you read any of Jenn Bennett’s books? Are you planning on picking this one up?