Arminzerella's Reviews > Alabama Moon

Alabama Moon by Watt Key
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** spoiler alert ** Moon Blake has lived with his father in the woods in a primitive shelter for as long as he can remember. His pap taught him everything he knows about survival in the wild, which is good, because when he breaks his leg and dies from the infection he leaves Moon all on his own. Pap gives Moon instructions to make his way to Alaska, where he’s likely to find other cadres of people who don’t like the government and want to be free to live their own lives in their own way. Moon’s not sure how to go about getting to Alaska, so he stops to ask for directions from the only other person he knows – the man who owns the shop where he and his pap sell their vegetables and hides. The man contacts the authorities once Moon leaves, and this turns into a real show as people who don’t even know Moon try to “do the right thing” and plug him back into the system. Moon has no desire to live in an orphanage, or go to jail – he just wants to do what his father told him. He convinces two other boys at the juvenile home in which he’s placed to run away with him (Hal and Kit), and they disappear into the Talladega National Forest for six weeks before anyone hears anything about them again.

Hal leaves them after a few uncomfortable nights in the woods to return to his father (a drunk and unsuitable parent whom Hal loves unconditionally), but Kit and Moon manage to survive in the wilderness, until Kit becomes deathly ill. Moon hikes him back to civilization and leaves him in the care of some people who stop to help them. Hal hears about Kit on the news and returns to the woods to bring Moon to his dad’s place. They spend some quality time together, but Moon is picked up by Constable Sanders when he visits Kit in the hospital. Sanders has a real grudge against Moon (Moon has made him look foolish several times by escaping from the law), and means to make him pay. Moon’s savior is the lawyer who initially tricked him into being captured in the first place. He won’t see Moon put away for Sanders’ lies. While all of this is going on, authorities manage to find Moon’s surviving relatives, and it turns out they’re eager to make him an official part of the family. Moon has learned from his friendships with Hal and Kit that he doesn’t want to be alone in the world. Alaska’s going to have to wait.

This was a great survival story – it’s incredibly detailed with information about what Moon taught the other boys in terms of survival skills (plants they harvested and ate, how he made their tools and weapons, how they built the shelter, how each of the parts of the deer they killed were used, etc.). You could almost take this out into the woods and use it as a primer for surviving there yourself. This should appeal to fans of My Side of the Mountain (or vice versa). It’s a very rough and tumble boy book – Hal and Moon get into all kinds of destructive mischief together (and Hal’s father does nothing to rein in their antics), and Moon is capable and confident beyond his years (probably because he has proven skills that have assured his survival in the past). I’m not sure the addition of the purely evil Constable Sanders is completely necessary. He’s a jerk for the sake of being a jerk, and Moon is the burr under his skin that provokes him into madness. Moon has enough trouble from the people who are trying to help him – does he really need a pig-headed nemesis? Other than Sanders (whom no one will like), this was a fast and interesting read.
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