Reviewed by Cheryl Russell
Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent
"Valent’s novel is as much a story about racial prejudice and hatred on a group level as it is on a personal level..."
“Catching Moondrops” is
a phrase coined by Jessilyn Lassiter’s
father and the title of Jennifer Erin Valent's latest novel. According
father, when the full moon begins to spill over its sides, lucky is the
person who catches one of the descending moon drops. For that person, the
world will appear brighter. A moondrop, then, is a sign of hope and in
Calloway, Virginia, hope is a scarce commodity, especially if you are black.
In 1938, the Klan is a powerful force of hatred in Calloway and a source of terror for the Negro population and for people like the Lassiters, who defy the Klan’s ideology of hate and fear. Years ago, they had taken in Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma Teague, when her parents perished in a fire and raised her as their own daughter. The Klan hasn’t forgotten this breach of social norms. Jessilyn Lassiter loathes the Klan and all that they stand for and the racism that plagues her town. When Tal Pritchett, a black physician, moves into town, emotions begin to boil. Gemma is attracted to the newest Calloway resident and the Klan is repulsed by the knowledge that a black man with more education than all of them put together has taken up residence in their town. It is only a matter of time before the Klan seeks to put the new doctor in what they have deemed his place.
But the Klan members aren’t the only ones controlled by destructive emotions. As time wears on and Jessilyn looses yet another friend in a violent death, she becomes fed up with God, a being, as she sees it, allowing evil to run rampant in the world, destroying the innocent and permitting evildoers to remain free. She refuses to share in the faith of her parents, Gemma, and Luke Talley, the man she has loved for years. In a pivotal moment, her inner self is revealed and she’s repulsed by what she sees, but at a loss on how to deal with the person she has become. Valent’s novel is as much a story about racial prejudice and hatred on a group level as it is on a personal level—the Klan vs. the Negros and anyone befriending them and Jessilyn Lassiter vs. Jessilyn Lassiter.
Catching Moondrops is also a strong story about family loyalty and love—whether that family is bound by blood or relationships of their own making. But overall, it is a story about choices. What happens when people choose to be ruled by their emotions—be it a group like the Klan or an individual like Jessilyn. When people choose to adhere to the teachings of their faith or reject that faith to take matters into their own hands.
Valent is the award winning author of Fireflies in December and Cottonwood Whispers. Catching Moondrops is her third novel in the series.
Cheryl Russell lives in the Midwest with her husband and three children. Her
short stories, as well as a few articles, have been published in print and online.
She's loved to read for as long as she can remember and puts all that time to
good use writing book reviews for Infuze, Novel Reviews, and Title Trakk. She's
also a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, FIRST network, Christian
Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour and American Christian Fiction Writers.
She's currently working on her first novel. If she could, she'd spend her time
hanging out in the thermal areas of Yellowstone in general, Norris Geyser Basin
in particular. Another favorite spot is Kennicott, an old copper mining town
in Wrangel-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, which is at the end of a 60 mile
dirt road, 8 hours west of Anchorage. She and her family are frequent hikers
in the national parks, and have pounded the dirt trails in Virginia, Colorado,
Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. You can visit her at her blog, Unseen
Worlds or at her website.