A new and authentic sparkly voice in children's fiction; 'Luna Rae is not Alone' is a wonderful debut for 2021. Hayley Webster really gets into the head of a child and understands the challenges of family and friendship, and it's such a joy to read.
Luna Rae has moved house and moved school and it's not easy to settle in. Making friends is a challenge and home-life is difficult too. When her new school advertises a Great British Baking competition, Luna is keen to enter with her mum. The only thing is, is that her mum hasn't been home for days and her dad is acting strangely…
This really was a delight to read. Webster must be an incredible teacher because she absolutely gets how it feels to be a Year 6 child when life takes unexpected turns. Luna feels whole and real on the page: troubled but hopeful, wise and endearing. As a teacher myself, I found scenes set at Luna's school to be so authentic it felt like Webster must have visited those classrooms I have taught in - right down to the type of SATs questions that children encounter. The interactions between children, teachers and adults is rendered perfectly, and Luna's reactions to events are real and raw and surprising too. Her relationship with Rudo is sweet, captured perfectly for the age. There are moments of joy and moments that move. My only caveat is that I wanted more! I really wanted to know how Luna gets on in the future, how her friendships continue to blossom and how she navigates the complexities of family life. Let's hope there's more to come from Luna!
'Luna Rae is not Alone' is an authentic exploration of children on the brink of maturity. Wise, real, tender and funny, this is a fresh and wonderful book to be published next year.
Thank you to the marvellous Nosy Crow for my proof copy.