This is one of several reviews I wrote for the late lamented Secular Homeschooling Magazine.
We ran an article about homeschoolers in fiction, and I rated a lot of YA novels based on how good they were and
how well they handled homeschooling. Mostly, homeschoolers were hauled out as the reliable weirdos in story after story; but it was still fun to do so much reading and call it my job.
So: Alabama Moon,
by Watt KeyCategory:
Creepy backwoods illegal homeschoolingSummary:
Occasional trips into town for supplies are the only times Moon gets to see anyone other than his father, or glimpse the world outside their tiny hidden home. Just before he dies, Moon's father advises Moon to leave Alabama and go to Alaska to seek others of their kind – people who know how to live off the land and refuse to have any relationship with the government. The fact that Moon is only ten when his father dies doesn't stop him from trying to follow this injunction. Fortunately, he doesn't succeed, though the reader becomes increasingly sympathetic with his wish to. Instead, Moon ends up in a warm, safe home with a loving family
, and learns the difficult lesson that you can love and honor someone and still not agree with him – even if he's your father.Conclusion:
The "Little House" books will seem kind of creepy for about a week after you finish reading this.Rating as a novel about homeschooling and/or homeschoolers:
It's true that Watt Key is writing about one
very unusual child in one very unusual situation. If you're a homeschooler, good luck explaining that to friends and relatives who read this book and panic about your decision to teach your own kids.Rating as a novel:
A brilliant, beautiful book with subtle characterization and a terrifically clever court scene that ties up all loose ends. Ideals of love, redemption, friendship and forgiveness permeate the story.