Saturday 26 June 2021

Footprints on the Moon

Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood (UQP) University of Queensland Press PB RRP $16.99 ISBN: 9780702262838

Reviewed by Jeffery E Doherty

Humans are about to leave footprints on the moon, but what sort of mark can one girl make here on Earth?

Footprints on the Moon is a verse novel set in 1969, at the time of the moon landing and the anti-Vietnam War protests, as seen through the eyes of Sharnie Burley a young girl who is starting high school.

Sharnie’s life is becoming complicated; she is struggling to find friends at high school, her older sister Cas is becoming distant and secretive, rifts are growing in her family, and Gran has been forgetting things. Around her, excitement is building about the imminent moon landing, and tensions are building in town around the anti-war protests. Can Sharnie find her own way in this brave new world?

Footprints on the Moon is my first exploration into verse novels. I found it a little strange at first to read. With so few words on the page, it should have been a fast read, but I often found myself going over and examining sections of verse, probably a throw-back from dissecting poems at school. Parts of the text, although poetically written, could easily have been written across the page like a normal prose book, but overall, the verse format certainly fits and works beautifully well. It also helps draw the reader into Sharnie’s mind and strengthens the emotional connection to her.

This book is raw and emotional in a world full of uncertainty. It distils the turmoil of the times through the lens of one young girl, going through her own emotional battles. As such, this book would make an excellent accompaniment to school history texts. For adults who grew up in the sixties and seventies, the story releases a wave of nostalgia for those times. Although Footprints on the Moon uses historical events, the emotional uncertainty explored in the book is just as relevant today.

This is a wonderful book that I believe readers, both young and old, will adore.

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