Footprints on the Moon


Publication Date: 2 Feb. 2021
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9780702262838

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

    It’s 1969 and life is changing fast. Sharnie Burley is starting high school and finding it tough to make new friends. As the world waits to see if humans will land on the moon, the Vietnam War rages overseas. While her little cousin, Lewis, makes pretend moon boots, young men are being called up to fight, sometimes without having any choice in the matter. Sometimes without ever coming home.

    Dad thinks serving your country in a war is honourable, but when Sharnie’s older sister, Cas, meets a returned soldier and stars getting involved in anti-war protests, a rift in their family begins to show. Sharnie would usually turn to her grandma for support, but lately Gran’s been forgetting things.

    Can she find her own way in this brave new world?

    Information

    Book Type: Junior Chapter
    Age Group: 10 to 15 years
    Traffic Lights: Green/Amber
    Class Novel: Yes
    Good Reads Rating: 5/5
    Literary Rating: 5/5

    Review

    Sharnie starts high school in the midst of a changing world. The Space Race is coming to a head, young men are being conscripted to the Vietnam War… and her older sister Cas doesn’t have time for her anymore. Cas is worried about the war—she says conscription is unfair and that Vietnam veterans are treated poorly if they return from service.

    Sharnie can’t understand why her sister’s so passionate about making a difference in their small town. Luckily, she still has her grandmother to talk to. But her grandmother is starting to lose her memory. As they spend time gardening together, Sharnie learns about her grandfather, who died in New Guinea. Through his story she begins to understand the grief of veterans’ families.

    At school, her best friend Mia is drifting away, more interested in spending time with popular girls Ellie and Marg—the girls who are always calling people communists for questioning the war. Gail, an unpopular girl, often attracts their attention. Sharnie stands up for her, and the two strike up a friendship. Sharnie learns that Gail’s brother was conscripted, and died in Vietnam.

    On ANZAC day, Sharnie’s family go to the service to pay their respects to her grandfather. Cas doesn’t come, and there’s an anti-war protest at the service. Sharnie thinks she sees Cas in the crowd. At school, their principal warns that if any of the students were involved they’ll be expelled. At home, Sharnie’s father finds a protest poster in Cas’s things and warns her not to get involved. He says it’s unpatriotic and a distraction from her studies. But Cas won’t be convinced—what use is university when people are dying?

    When Sharnie’s grandmother passes away, her friendship with Gail is her one lifeline. They work on a poster about the moon landing for a competition at school, and find a way to convey a peaceful sentiment—an astronaut looking at earth and commenting that we could use a Sea of Tranquility. The girls come second in the competition and speak to a reporter about it: Sharnie says that they’re dedicating the poster to Gail’s brother.

    Cas and her friends show up at the competition and peacefully protest the war. Sharnie stands beside them.

    This is a beautiful verse novel about change, grief, activism, and hope. Though Sharnie, Gail, and Cas are grieving, they find a way to fight against injustice and make their world a better place. Set against the backdrop of the space race, Sharnie’s musings about footprints on the moon—the legacy we leave behind—are both charming and poignant. The verse is excellent—a lyrical, yet easy read. Overall, a highly enjoyable and powerful book.

    Themes

    change, high school, friendship, bullying, grief, family, activism, Vietnam War, protests, hope

    Content Notes

    Sharnie’s grandmother dies off-page, related to her by her mother (p.109). Mention that her grandfather and Gail’s brother died in wars.

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