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The Moonlight School

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Haunted by her sister's mysterious disappearance, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky, in the spring of 1911 to work for Cora Wilson Stewart, superintendent of education. When Cora sends Lucy into the hills to act as scribe for the mountain people, she is repelled by the primitive conditions and intellectual poverty she encounters. Few adults can read and write.

Born in those hills, Cora knows the plague of illiteracy. So does Brother Wyatt, a singing schoolmaster who travels through the hills. Involving Lucy and Wyatt, Cora hatches a plan to open the schoolhouses to adults on moonlit nights. The best way to combat poverty, she believes, is to eliminate illiteracy. But will the people come?

As Lucy emerges from a life in the shadows, she finds purpose; or maybe purpose finds her. With purpose comes answers to her questions, and something else she hadn't expected: love.

Inspired by the true events of the Moonlight Schools, this standalone novel from bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings to life the story that shocked the nation into taking adult literacy seriously. You'll finish the last page of this enthralling story with deep gratitude for the gift of reading.

320 pages, Paperback

First published February 2, 2021

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About the author

Suzanne Woods Fisher

58 books3,359 followers
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can't life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 537 reviews
Profile Image for Vonda.
318 reviews104 followers
January 23, 2021
I was on the fence throughout this one. It was masterful storytelling of a sweet, clean historical fiction about life in the Appalacia and their customs with a bit of romance. Whilst the book is rather slow moving It does give an enlightening look at the language and lifestyles of the people in the hollers.
Profile Image for Bonnie DeMoss.
740 reviews91 followers
February 10, 2021
Haunted by her sister's mysterious disappearance, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky, in the spring of 1911 to work for her cousin, Cora Wilson Stewart, Superintendent of Education. Lucy reluctantly becomes a scribe for the mountain people and goes into the hills to write their dictated letters, for few of them can read and write. Slowly Lucy begins to grow close to the mountain people and to Brother Wyatt, a singing school master.

This is a very nice historical Christian romance that reminds me in many ways of Catherine Marshall's book "Christy." While not quite as gritty, realistic, and brutally honest as "Christy," this is still a very accurate look at the people of Appalachia in the early 1900s. The story is compelling and the true history of Cora Wilson Stewart is fascinating.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,821 reviews494 followers
April 7, 2021
Thanks to Netgalley and Revell for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

Maybe you don't know this about me but I don't enjoy movies about teachers. I avoid them like the plague for the way they oversimplify my profession. On the other hand, I LOVE books that feature teachers.

This 2021 new release is on the creation of Kentucky's moonlight schools which helped improve literacy rates across the county and eventually the state. It is also the story of Cora Wilson Stewart, superintendent of education whose drive to educate changed the way people thought of adult literacy. Contrary to popular beliefs of the time, it was indeed possible to read at ANY AGE.

Through the eyes of fictional characters who interact with Cora, we experience the beauty of rural Kentucky while also witnessing the primitive conditions and intellectual poverty of the early 20th century. Whether you're an adult or a teen, no doubt the characters will make you laugh and cry.

#erinrossreads2021 #readersofinstagram #teachersandbooks #goodreads #netgalley #revellpublishing

Goodreads and Instagram review published 07/04/21
Profile Image for Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader.
1,041 reviews122 followers
February 22, 2021
I can't imagine not being able to read. I read every single day. This was something else to read about. Fisher has really out done herself with this one.
The Kentucky setting was spot on I know I lived there for a short time. There was a lot of uneducated people there. Many can not read they had to work for the families to survive.
I don't know how Fisher came up with the story but it is one that you won't soon forget.
I gave this book 4 stars I hope that will grab a copy.
The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.
Profile Image for Deanne Patterson.
1,736 reviews122 followers
February 7, 2021
I enjoy reading Suzanne Woods Fisher's books because they are so descriptive and full of substance.
I have learned a lot while reading this book. I have read many books on the Appalachia area but none this detailed in descriptions of the characters,beliefs,superstitions,mannerisms and language.
This is based on a true story that will captivate you with not only it's history but there is a mystery we are following here as well.
Illiteracy and poverty are no stranger to the folks of the hollers and hills of rural Rowan County, Kentucky in 1911 and the author really brings to life the legacy of Cora Wilson Stewart's life through her diligent historical research.
Combating adult illiteracy isn't easy, the moonlight schools were opened but would anyone come to them?
Fascinating! This is my favorite book by this author to date.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you.
All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Missy.
305 reviews54 followers
November 10, 2021
"If a man wipes his hands on a woman's apron, he's shore to fall in love with her" - Miss Mollie

When my husband and I went on our first date, we went to a restaurant to eat and he wiped his hands on my pant leg. Since times have changed, and most women don't wear aprons anymore, I guess he was destined to fall in love with me. 😊


This was a story of Lucy Wilson, a city girl sent to live with in the hallows of Kentucky to help her cousin, Cora Wilson Stewart, superintendent of schools. Lucy soon finds out that learning the way they talk, their superstitions, and just how different they live. But illiteracy among the adults soon comes to Lucy's foresight when she learns about the land contracts her father's lumber company is having them sign. Because of that, Lucy, Cora, and Wyatt (the singing school master) soon come up with a plan to teach the adults to read and write.

Based on a true story, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Cora Wilson Stuart and her plan to help adults learn to read and write. Coming from a family of teachers and farmers, it is hard to imagine not being able to read and write. It really, for the time, was a plan of all plans.

Profile Image for Jocelyn Green.
Author 28 books1,167 followers
March 23, 2021
I thoroughly enjoyed The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher! This novel is reminiscent of the classic Christy by Catherine Marshall, with its lush mountain setting, the unflinching look at the poverty and illiteracy of the people who lived there, and the struggle the protagonist experiences as she overcomes feelings of inadequacy to dive in and make a difference. But other than that, The Moonlight School is absolutely a unique story which illuminates the historical figure of Cora Wilson Stewart, crusader against adult illiteracy in Rowan County, Kentucky. The fictional protagonist, Lucy Wilson, works with Cora and has her own very satisfying character journey. This novel was a sheer delight to read, especially since a couple of the POVs employed were from teens who were mountain people themselves. A charming, important book.
Profile Image for Virginia Campbell.
1,282 reviews243 followers
January 24, 2021
Talented storyteller Suzanne Woods Fisher shines a light on a revelatory chapter of American history in "The Moonlight School". Blending fact and fiction, and introducing real life figures to created characters, the author weaves an inspiring tale which focuses on adult illiteracy in 20th Century Kentucky. "Moonlight Schools" got their name because classes for adults were held in children's daytime one-room schools on nights when the moon cast enough light for students to see the paths and trails to the school buildings. In the Spring of 1911, Lucy Wilson is sent by her father to rural Rowan County, KY to assist her cousin Cora (real-life historical heroine, Cora Wilson Stewart) in the fight for literacy by providing reading and writing lessons for adults seeking to improve their lives. Raised in privilege, Lucy is taken aback by the poverty and age-old primitiveness of the lifestyles she encounters. However, as time passes, she begins to see a simplistic beauty in the people and the surroundings. A certain young man of a fine character, Brother Wyatt, catches her interest and stirs her heart. Long haunted by the childhood disappearance of her younger sister, Charlotte, Lucy will also discover unexpected, life-changing news about what really happened to her sister all those years ago. This story really resonated with me because one of my goals is to promote literacy--there are still many people in the United States and the world who are struggling with literacy. Improving reading skills boosts self-esteem, opens up the world, enables informed decision making, and brings forth all kinds of new opportunities. People who read for pleasure have good imaginations, an ability to think outside the box, and the vision to go beyond black and white to see all the shades in between. Suzanne Woods Fisher is a wonderful writer, and she brings these people and their place in history to life with great care and detail. Highly recommended.

Book Copy Gratis Revell Books via LibraryThing
Profile Image for Kristi.
565 reviews
November 30, 2021
Rowan County, Kentucky 1911

Such a good book! I really enjoyed this book and felt at home in the hills of Kentucky. The writing was done well and I thought the characters were well developed. There were some really interesting words used and I found myself looking them up as I went. Some of my favorites: collywobbles, fussbudget, and thunderation. I enjoyed the hillbilly twang and dialect. I would read certain parts out loud to see if I could mimic what I thought the words would sound like.

I had a number of favorite quotes from the book as well. I won't share them all, but here is a couple: "He had a great unwavering faith, as tall as the mountains, as deep and wide as the valleys."
"A bluebird carries the sky on its back."

Wyatt was such an inspiration. He did have a sense of mystery about himself throughout and that was intriguing. I struggled with Lucy a little. I felt she was a little naive in the beginning, maybe even in the middle, but you can see her growth throughout the story. I got a little bored with the infatuation between Angie and Finley James.

Going in I didn't realize this was based on actual events, so that was fun to learn at the end of the book.

Rating: PG
Language: clean read
Recommend: yes

One more quote: "Sometimes what we choose not to do is just as important as what we choose to do."
Profile Image for Angela.
354 reviews21 followers
March 31, 2021
3.5 stars... I was invested in the story but a lot of other nonsense happens before the book really focuses on Lucy and Cora starting up the adult moonlight schools. Like, it's only about the last 3 chapters that the real story takes place. Sure, the character development is great and I liked the other parts of the story, I was just confused and curious about the blurb cuz the things happening weren't really matching up. Then the last couple chapters happened, and they happened quick, and then I was just left sort of dazed... If that makes sense? Idk. Not quite 4 stars, but better than 3 is my final rating.
Profile Image for Joleen.
1,985 reviews1,207 followers
August 12, 2021
MARCH 1911
MOREHEAD, KENTUCKY

Main Characters:
Lucy Wilson: Nineteen or twenty year old assisting cousin Cora in the hills of Kentucky
Cora Wilson: Supervisor of Rowan County schools
Brother Wyatt: Godly man they called the singing school master
Finley James: Fifteen year-old with a crush on Lucy
Angie Cooper: Eighth grader to be next school teacher at Brushy School
Andrew Spenser: Lumber sales agent courting Lucy
Mollie McGlothin: Sweet elderly mountain woman with spells and potions

Ah, Appalachian culture. One of my favorites to read about. It absolutely fascinates me. And this book was bursting with culture. Each character was unique, embodying the Scots-Irish ancestry and hill-folk customs. How they love their traditions. How they cared for each other. A thing of beauty, yet frustrating for those trying to lay a progressive blueprint. Illiteracy was rampant but it wasn’t all from choice. Poverty chose for them. They loved to learn, but the need to work for subsistence, even using school-aged youths, was often vital.

Based on a true story of Cora Wilson Stewart, a progressive who won the election for superintendent of Rowan County Schools, and later the first woman to be elected as president of the Kentucky Education Association. Cora opened county-wide “Moonlight Schools” to educate illiterate adults at night, upon which this story is based. The Afterward about its success is not to be missed.

As for characters:
Wyatt was a favorite of mine with his love for the Lord and love for his people. His education and maturity set him apart from many who grew up in the hills.
Lucy, the single young lady who was sent by her father to help her cousin Cora in the school system enjoyed Wyatt's friendship, and was continually challenged by his words of wisdom. Her terrible experience at the age of nine, when her little sister disappeared, colored her whole world, causing a distrust of God's will and sovereignty.
Finley James was one of the youths who had a hard time with school because of circumstances in their family and farm. He needed to earn money for the family to survive. He was sweet but just couldn’t stand Angie Cooper, a girl about his age who was crazy about him but showed off her "book-learnin".

This story was exactly the kind of book I love. Very clean, intriguing plot with wonderful faith messages. I could easily re-read this often. Great book.
Profile Image for Rachel.
2,010 reviews66 followers
December 13, 2020
The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher is an excellent southern historical fiction that has it all: HF, strong female characters, based on true people and events, a little romance, and a strong/positive message and ending.

I love books that are inspired by history, and this book takes the fiery and wonderful Cora Wilson Stewart and her quest to help eliminate adult illiteracy in deep Appalachia, Rowan County, Kentucky, and add a wonderful side story and narrative to her implementation of the Moonlight schools. Being from Appalachia myself, I was initially drawn to this story of a fascinating woman in history that added an important piece of education to the early 1900s. I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful story and additional characters created simultaneously to create a heartwarming story of compassion, passion, selflessness, community, purpose, faith, and the desire to be a part of something and to have a place to call home.

I love what the author did with Ms. Stewart and I think she did her justice with this book. I love the additional stories of Lucy, Finley James, Brother Wyatt, and the other cast of characters that the author so painstakingly created to go along perfect with the narrative. It all ran seamlessly and beautifully.

I also enjoyed the Author’s historical notes at the end and the Fact vs Fiction information. It all really added to the book.

5/5 stars enthusiastically

Thank you NetGalley and Revell Publishing for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR, Instagram, and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 2/2/21.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn S..
244 reviews21 followers
February 26, 2021
I almost didn't request this book when I saw it was written by a romance author . . . but I am SO glad I gave it a chance! This story was so well written, so well told, that I absolutely fell in love with it. The tale is told slowly, rambles a bit, and ties together three story lines -- Finley James, the mountain boy who refuses to go to school; Angie Cooper, the girl of the mountains who absolutely thrives; and Lucy Wilson, the wealthy daughter of a mountain boy who moved to the city and did well for himself. And the rambling tale, the quaint language, the mountain lore and the accents and the work God did up in those mountains, was absolutely amazing to read about!

This story was based on truth, and, having a fondness for 1) a southern tale, 2) a tale about the Appalachian mountains, and 3) a story with native accents and languages and original phrasing and words, this tale absolutely made my heart happy! 

The story lines all weave in and out among themselves, twisting and turning and finally coming to a beautiful conclusion in the end. All the loose ends are tied up wonderfully, and the ending was bittersweet, but perfect. The characters were a joy to meet and to watch grow. Lucy, the girl who had never done anything for herself, discovers the joy in venturing out of her comfort zone and serving others who find themselves in less fortunate circumstances. She learns the peace and usefulness one can feel from going against the expected social norms and socializing with those she felt were below her, discovering that, in fact, they really weren't very different than she was. 

Finley James discovers that you can, indeed, get far in life with an education, and applies himself to reading -- far surpassing everyone's expectations. He gets himself some ambition, and he gets it mighty fast. I was cheering for him as he so easily conquered his lessons. 

And Angie Cooper -- her surliness and grumpiness towards Lucy, and her tenderness and care and empathy towards the children and older people in the holler totally captured my heart. And then she figures her heart problem is a thing called sin, and she asks the Greater Physician of all to heal her heart, and she becomes even more dear to my heart! 

Through many twists and turns, these characters learn to lean upon God and trust Him in all things. I appreciated that the tale was told from a Christian perspective, and that the various characters did indeed seek to honor God and prayed for His will to be done. So often in Christian fiction, even when based in fact, there is a trite "the characters go to church on Sunday" but they never do anything else to signify that they are seeking Jesus Christ. This book was full of characters who sought to live out their faith, and it was wonderful! 

So . . . the romance aspect. Because I know a lot of people don't "do" romance, and this author is actually one that I've not read before because of the romance contained within her plots. I gave her a chance, and I am SO glad I did, as I mentioned before. I don't want to say too much and give it away, but basically because of her father's influence, there is a very selfish guy who ends up spending time with Lucy and when a better opportunity knocks, he's gone. And then there's the guy who you *think* might be interested, but never does say anything until the very end . . . when they know each other fairly well based on working together (my favorite kind of romance!) and working through some difficult things like dried up streams and loblolly pine groves that have been decimated. 

There's the young man who thinks he's in love with the fancy lady, and the young lady who's "caught" the young man (even though he doesn't know it yet!) who feels threatened and I found it quite humorous, and not at all offensive, but I *am* an adult reader, so younger readers may not find the humor in it, and I can say that I in no way condone the crush and the resulting attitude that comes of it. 

Really, everything that happens on the back cover happens in the last 1/8 or so of the book . . . and I really did enjoy it SO much! This was definitely a five star read, and I am SO thankful for Revell gifting me a copy to read! I was only asked to give my opinion on the story, and I wasn't required to enjoy it -- although I did! 
Profile Image for Sarita.
1,043 reviews624 followers
November 19, 2021
Rating 3.5

This was my first book by this author and I enjoyed the story. From the heading I did think the book would have been more about the school, than events who lead up to the opening of the Moonlight School and after hearing Cora was an actual historical person, I would have loved more scenes with her, but I still enjoyed the story.

I loved the characters and how the author used the literate Lucy to show the difference to the mountain people's learning. I loved Angie and Flynn and would have loved more to their story. I did get irritated that Lucy did not see the true character of Andrew sooner. Loved loved Wyatt and all his wisdom.

Fans of Historical Romance will love this one.

*I listened to this on Scribd.*
Profile Image for Christy.
234 reviews65 followers
February 1, 2021
I so enjoy a book based on historical events, and I was unaware of this moment in history until recently. The premise behind this standalone novel was based on starting schools for illiterate adults that were held after the busyness of each day was complete. Cora Wilson Stewart was on a mission to teach all the adults in Rowan County to read – if she could convince the teachers in her district to do it for free.

Set alongside the history of The Moonlight School was Lucy’s story. While this section was fictionalized, I imagine Cora needed to recruit more than one individual to bring her illiteracy plan to fruition. Lucy joined her in Rowan County initially to work as a stenographer, and she assumed that she would be helping Cora in her office. Cora’s plans were to send Lucy into the hills and hollers to transcribe letters for the illiterate adults. Lucy was in for more than one surprise as she saw firsthand how poor these people were, yet rich in community.

What I appreciated most about this story is that I have been so fortunate all my life to know how to read and to have a genuine love of books. So many do not have the same opportunity for a host of reasons. Even in my own city, there are so many students who go from one grade to the next without having the reading comprehension they need to succeed as they get older. It is a sad, overlooked issue. I applaud this author for pulling the curtain back on illiteracy in The Moonlight School in a tasteful and helpful way.
Profile Image for Jolene - .
507 reviews13 followers
February 9, 2021
In The Moonlight School, Suzanne Woods Fisher wraps a fictional tale around the real-life story of Cora Wilson Stewart and her Moonlight School Initiative to end illiteracy in Rowan County, Kentucky. The moonlight school concept intrigued me, and I admired Cora’s passion to end illiteracy. Unfortunately, Cora was a secondary character with limited page time and the moonlight schools showed up late in the book. I struggled to progress in this book until about the 75% mark. After that I enjoyed the last fourth of the book, but I wish the story had captured my interest earlier.

Sadly, The Moonlight School was not my cup of tea, but Suzanne Woods Fisher is a well-known author in the Christian Fiction realm and her loyal readers will likely want to read The Moonlight School.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
Profile Image for Renee.
991 reviews167 followers
August 23, 2021
The touching story of Lucy Wilson, a young woman of privilege, whose eyes are opened to what's most important in life when she becomes involved with the hill people of Kentucky in 1911. The characters are charming, especially Brother Wyatt, the singing schoolmaster. And Lucy's cousin Cora is based on a real life social reformer and educator known for her work to eliminate adult illiteracy. This gentle story is like a breath of fresh air.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,451 reviews42 followers
November 7, 2021
I really enjoyed this book. I was captivated by the first heartbreaking scene, and then all that followed.
I liked that we got to see not only Lucy's point of view, but that of Finley James, and Angie Cooper as well. I liked how all three characters had clear growth in their story arcs, and ended up loving even 'prickly' Angie by the end.
I'm glad this book focused mainly on Lucy, though. I loved watching her 'come into her own' with her interactions with Cora (though, Cora would be her first cousin, once removed, rather than her 'second cousin' as was stated in the book), as well as with Miss Mollie, the other mountain folk, Wyatt, and even Andrew. Each person that Lucy came in contact with helped write a part of her own story, helped her figure out who she wanted to be and what her calling truly was.
4.5 stars
Profile Image for Libby May.
Author 3 books85 followers
February 24, 2021
The Characters
Lucy is an introverted girl who grew up in luxury. After being thrown into the rough and tumble life of a Rowan County, she begins to blossom, and that blossoming is beautiful. I always have a hard time relating to introverted characters. Usually I can appreciate extroverts, and I can appreciate ambiverts, but introverts are beyond my understanding. Lucy was beautifully done though, and even as being myself, I appreciated her development and character arc.

Wyatt was one of my favorite characters. (Why can’t authors find other names for their characters? Every other male love interest is named Wyatt.) Besides the name, he broke the chains of every other cliche male. His passion for the Lord was inspiring, and his love for the people of the hollers was admirable. His calm temperament, patience, and faith created such depth to his character that even when he was not on screen you couldn’t help remembering him.

Cora was a sight to see. XD She was entertaining and invested in everything she did. She reminded me of who I want to be when I grow up. Let’s through ourselves into accomplishing the impossible, and let’s get it done, against all odds. Like starting the moonlight school for illiterate adults!

Finley James and Angie. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this part of the plot was so much fun to watch and I’m just gonna leave this here so you have to read the book yourself.

Andrew was not the best, but I love how the author wove him simply as a man doing business in the end. Yes, it was unfair, but for some reason, I didn’t come away hating the guy for what he’d done. It was a beautiful wrap-up of that plotline.

The Plot
The plot was very determined. It was a relaxed story, and I felt like we spilled all over the place, but then kept coming back to the main point. Just like real life. Every thread was given adequate attention and closed up very cleanly.

The ending was the most perfect thing that you can imagine out of a story that's based on reality. It gives so much freedom to take the facts of the actual event, but it gives closure and happiness to the fictional characters as well.

I know that the summary/blurb claims that Lucy finds love and that the book is all about the moonlight schools, but I’m gonna mention that almost everything that’s mentioned in the blurb is in the last 1/4 of the book. So enjoy the story because it’s super well done! Even if the blurb isn’t really fair to it all.

The Content
The Moonlight School was very good content-wise. There were a couple of kisses, but by no means were they sensual. There was no violence and no bad language (heck was used a couple of times).

In Summary
I really enjoyed this historical fiction. It was based in a very interesting time in America’s history. The writing style was beautiful, and it’s the perfect book to cuddle up with a mug of tea and a good candle.
Four stars! The Moonlight School is clean for ALL AGES but may be more enjoyable for girls over 13. Thank you to the publisher and the author for my gifted copy! A positive review was not required and all opinions are my own.

And that’s all for today! I have a very special announcement coming out Monday about Playgrounds and Black Markers, so if I don’t see you until then, toodles my friends!
Profile Image for Chautona Havig.
Author 247 books1,490 followers
February 7, 2021
What if the Secret to Your Future Lies in the Past?
As a girl, one of my favorite books was Catherine Marshall’s book, Christy. One young woman’s determination to make a difference in the lives of people she saw as needing her and, in the process, learning just how much she could learn from them.

Well, The Moonlight School has some of the same elements of self-discovery, misguided intentions, and fierce determination. That said, this book isn’t the same–not by a long shot. Written with fierce attention to detail and laser-point focus on one element–education of the mountain folk of Kentucky–every element of the story, even the seemingly insignificant ones, all point to that focus. Literacy.

Something about Ms. Fisher’s writing felt a little different in this one–not better or worse, just different. I could smell the cabins, feel the gullywashers pouring down, hear the mispronounced words spoken in their lyrical twang. Not once did it feel exaggerated, contrived, or overdone. If you’ve ever read Mark Twain, you know how easy it is to do that!

But the characters… oh, how I loved (and hated) the characters. Her cousin, Cora, had a bit of “Miss Alice” of Christy fame in her, but she had more spit and vinegar to her, too. Lucy had a beautiful character arc growth that gnawed at my heart and made me want to cheer at the same time. But Finley… oh, that boy. I so wanted to grab him, shake him, and beg him to allow himself to be a boy for the short while he had to be. Still, I knew that he needed to be the man he saw himself as, too.

And Wyatt… ahh… Wyatt.
My beloved “Titus” from another book has a rival for my literary hero affections. Wyatt wasn’t perfect, but how he handled his own imperfections made him perfect… And that was perfect, too.

Wyatt is also responsible for the richness and depth of spiritual content in the book. I found myself convicted by his admonition to really look at the world the Lord had made. He urged her not to take it for granted. To love people and give what they truly needed instead of what “seems right for the moment.” Furthermore, Wyatt challenges Lucy to see her past. Through that exercise, only then can she see what the Lord might have in store for her.

Recommended for lovers of historical fiction, well-written books, and Suzanne Woods Fisher. Also, if you were intrigued by the idea of the True Colors Crime Series but didn’t like the crime aspect, this might be an alternate idea.

Five-star read all the way. I’m thrilled that I requested that review copy, and am pleased that I loved it as much as I did. Not only that it’s fighting for position as favorite book of the year so far. I suspect it will win.
Profile Image for Kris - My Novelesque Life.
4,626 reviews189 followers
April 19, 2021
RATING: 3.5 STARS
2021; Revell

The Moonlight School is based on a true story, but is a fictionalized account of it. The main character, Lucy is fictional, while her cousin Cora Wilson Stewart was real. The novel starts out with Lucy's younger sister going missing as Lucy was absorbed in her novel (Little Women- for those book addicts like me). Years later her father's marries a young woman in her graduating class. While there is no overt drama, there is some tension with the new bride being her peer. Lucy is sent out to help her cousin Cora, who is the first female superintendent of education, in Rowan County (1911). She is sent out to the hills to help folks read and write letters. As Lucy sees the place her own successful father came from, and how the people in the hills live, she starts to build a confidence of her own. I loved the characters in this book. Fisher does such a great job in bringing them to life and also letting us see the world around them.

I did rather the novel 3.5 stars though, so I did a two issues with the book. One, I did not care for a storyline that seemed a bit too forced. I was also torn about the outcome of what Lucy decides for this person. I was also disappointed with where the novel ended. I felt like that was when the novel started to get really interesting. I wanted to now more of what would happen with the Moonlight School. Fisher does give an afterwards on what was fact, and more on the Moonlight school, which I am grateful for. Yet, I would have rather read about it through the characters than just an afterwards. It would have been nice to have more of Cora's thoughts as well. I like the story but at times just felt like there was a bit something missing, and I wanted to hear more from other characters. I do think it is worth the read as it is an interesting tale.

***I received a complimentary copy of this trade paperback from the publisher. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
Profile Image for MJSH.
986 reviews40 followers
February 5, 2021
"We're all human beings and have thoughts and dreams like everybody else. You'll find that we're all alike in the end."

I really enjoy Suzanne Woods Fisher's historical fiction and this newest release takes us to 1911 eastern Kentucky where one-third of the county is illiterate or semi-illiterate. Learning about the life in the Appalachian Mountains during this time period was fascinating - the poverty, tenacity, loyalty, and sincerity of the people created a unique and special subculture in those mountains that I am not familiar with. I loved the music and the rock solid faith of the people in Rowan County, especially Brother Wyatt's. Based on the true story of Cora Wilson Stewart who fought to bring literacy to young and old alike, this book will appeal to historical fiction fans and to anyone passionate about literacy.

Though the book is based on a true historical figure, the main characters in the book - Lucy and Wyatt - are fictional. Lucy is Cora's city born and bred cousin who is timid and without a purpose. When she comes out to the rural county, Lucy must overcome her prejudice against the poor and uneducated and must also decide what is important and how she should stand up for it. She's thrust into many uncomfortable and distressing situations where she learns to let go of her fears and past insecurities, and to rise up to find her calling, passion, and dream. Wyatt, though he doesn't actually have a voice in the story, is a steady, loyal, wise man of faith and music who makes for a lovely hero. The teenagers Fin and Angie are hysterical and bring plenty of teenage angst and drama, which adds levity to the plot. The illiteracy rate and the poverty rampant in that area are heart-breaking but the people's desire to work to rise above is extremely encouraging and full of hope.

I received the book via Celebrate Lit Tours and was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are solely my own.
Profile Image for Anne.
575 reviews91 followers
August 19, 2021
Great Historical Fiction

I really enjoyed this historical fiction story about illiterate adults in the mountains of Kentucky and the woman who decided to change all that with her Moonlight Schools. I loved how the author helped me sort out the facts from the fictional things at the end of the story. Cora was truly an amazing woman. But I also enjoyed the fictional character Lucy's story as well. Very memorable characters throughout the book
Profile Image for Lisa G. Hudson.
560 reviews26 followers
February 2, 2021
SOUL-STIRRING!

Think for a moment how difficult your life would be if you could not read or write. I suppose for most of us, the closet thing we can equate this to would be attempting to read something in a foreign language. Yet, I believe many of us could still deduct at least a few words out of a sentence or two because of some similarities we remember from some Spanish, French or Latin Class way back in our Youth! What if you were an adult 30, 40, or 50 years old and never, ever even learned the alphabet? When you conducted any type of legal business, you signed your name with an “X” because you had no idea how to write your name? You had to depend on what someone TOLD you were in the Legal Documents you signed but you had no way to know if what they said was the TRUTH! How could you ever hope to escape the poverty you were born in? What if you were fortunate enough to go to school and your teacher had only had to pass Grade 8 Exams to qualify to teach? This is the reality of Rowan County, Kentucky, in the Spring of 1911. Intellectual illiteracy and the challenge of what to do about it.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher has written a soul-stirring story for the ages! Inspired by the true events of the Moonlight Schools, Fisher brings this story to life by making the characters come alive and tell the story (their story) that shocked the nation into taking adult literacy seriously. These people and their story will completely capture your heart! Upon completion of reading this book, the reader will be thankful for many things; the two main ones being that they took time to read this book and heartfelt gratitude for the gift of reading.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this novel by Revell and NetGalley. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and without influence.
Profile Image for Audrey.
999 reviews152 followers
October 9, 2022
This book is an example of unrealized expectations. The title and blurb imply the story is about “moonlight” schools. However, these schools do not open until the final few pages of the book. This results in the book feeling slower than it really is because we readers are waiting for the schools to open so the story can get under way.

The story is really about Lucy growing as a person as she interacts with the rural folks of Kentucky’s Appalachian hills. The setting—time, place, culture—is quite vivid. The story is also a huge advocacy for literacy, demonstrating just how vital it is, and is loosely based on real events.



There are some Christian themes in the story, but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it Christian fiction. There’s occasional praying and a few conversations with a preacher about involving God in one’s life. It felt like a very natural part of the setting. So Christian fiction fans might find it lacking in Christian content while those not interested in Christian content might find it to have too much.

I can nitpick the fiddle playing: A fiddle is a violin, and fiddle music is a distinct playing style based in the South. Our fiddle player is able to tune by ear without being given a starting pitch. Either he has perfect pitch or is fine with the strings being in tune relative to each other. Fine. He never uses rosin. His bow is magic. For the record, tuning is done with tuning pegs and fine tuners, not “keys.”

Language: Clean
Sexual Content: None
Violence: Mild
Harm to Animals:
Harm to Children:
Other (Triggers):

*Reader’s Choice Nominee Fall 2022*
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,791 reviews98 followers
June 7, 2021
"An education, she believed, was the great equalizer, the answer to all life's injustices."

When her newly re-married father permits her to travel far from the city and into the mountains, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky prepared to help her cousin Cora Wilson Stewart with what she thinks is an overwhelming amount of paperwork; after all, her cousin is overseeing more than than fifty one-room schoolhouses through out the remote county communities. Startled to learn that a great deal of her job would be spent on horseback, Lucy pushes down her apprehensions, preconceptions, and inhibitions to forge ahead; meeting and assisting an array of ages, egos and personalities among the mostly illiterate "hill people". What she ends up finding is a purpose, something far more valuable than a finishing school education or a healthy allowance, for Lucy now understands that "all things can work together for good", even if it means "some things are best forgotten".

Dipping into the life of the very real Cora Wilson Stewart, through the eyes of a imagined young woman, whose childhood tragedy still strained to suffocate her confidence as a young adult, was a pure delight. Readers will enjoy every "trek" through the woods, every note of birdsong, every joy and discovery that education delivered into the hands of young and old alike, while turning the pages of "The Moonlight School". The perfect blend of bleak and beautiful!

"Her breath caught, overcome by an unconscious awareness that swirled up somewhere deep inside her and filled her conscious mind. She loved this place. Loved the hills and the hollows and the people who lived there. She loved knowing she had a purpose to fulfill here. And for the first time in her life she knew what it was."
Profile Image for Lori.
1,653 reviews68 followers
December 22, 2020
Suzanne Woods Fisher has done an amazing job in bringing the mountain people from 1911 to life.
I so enjoy a good history lesson!
Fact mixed with fiction makes an excellent teacher along with a wonderful man Wyatt. His wisdom along with Cora's was incredible!
Through Lucy this story brought back many memories of when I first moved to Kentucky from Ohio. It definitely was a culture shock! I had a little trouble understanding the language but once I caught on it was OK. Church was a perfect example. It sounded to me like tourch. I'm like ohhhhhh you mean church? Yes the girl said. I felt so embarrassed!
This story breaks my heart. I can't imagine not being able to do all of those things! Reading especially! I'd be lost without my books.
Cora seemed like genuinely caring woman. I loved in getting to know her as a person.
Many lessons can be learned from this book.
I only lived maybe 45 minutes from Rowan County. Kentucky is full of history! But, I sure didn't know about the Moonlight Schools!
This was a fabulous book. I loved going back home again. I do miss Kentucky more than I thought I would! It's been my home for 32 years.
I definitely recommend this one!
I was NOT required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
5 stars for this touching read.
Profile Image for Raechel Lenore.
Author 3 books21 followers
January 6, 2021
3.5

What first drew me to this book was the cover, and the author - I've read a couple of her contemporary books, and thought a historical fiction title by her would be worth the read! "The Moonlight School" is based on something I actually hadn't heard of before, but I love that it is based on a true story. The notes at the end of the book are very fascinating and I appreciate how true to real life the author depicted the character of Cora Stewart.I enjoyed this story, though I feel like it lacked some of the depth I was hoping for. Every time we seemed on the precipice of depth, the moment moved on. There was still great meaning behind the story, and I enjoyed getting the glimpse into the Mountain life of the people. Brother Wyatt was definitely my favorite character - he had a real heart for God and I loved seeing that play out across the pages.There were some things that were left primarily unresolved, such as Angie and Finley - so much was built up around those two that I expected something to come of them. But it's easy to imagine an ending for their stories, I suppose.A good story that shed light on an important event in the history of literacy.

This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group (Revell), through Interviews & Reviews.
420 reviews5 followers
December 21, 2020
This was such an interesting and informative historical fiction about the moonlight schools in Kentucky.

Lucy grew up as a wealthy child of a man who owned a lumber company. She ends up going to her cousin, Cora's, in Kentucky to help her. Cora is in charge of the schools up in the mountains.

Of course, in the beginning there is a huge culture shock for Lucy but as she learns more about the people, will her heart melt?

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the arc. The opinions are my own.
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