Maggot Moon

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Maggot Moon
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
February 12, 2013
ISBN
978-0763665531
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What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the "train-track thinkers." So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big...One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.

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Left Me Stunned in the Best Possible Way

“Where and when are we?” These were the questions I kept asking myself as I flew through Sally Gardner’s “Maggot Moon.” Rather than being frustrating, this mystery kept me turning page after page until I could figure it out.

“Moon” follows teenager Standish Treadwell who lives in a country that is ruled by a violent totalitarian government. This government has separated the country, known as the Motherland, into seven zones. Standish lives in the most impoverished of them all. The story focuses on Standish and his best friendship with Hector, and how that friendship is affected by the Motherland’s attempts to be the first country to land on the moon.

I couldn’t figure out whether the Motherland was supposed to be a country set up in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic, or horrific fictional past environment. Gardner writes in a way that the story could have fit into all three, and even after finishing the book I feel like the story could still fit into all three categories. This made the story interact with the reader by allowing the reader to shape the details of the story’s environment in their mind’s eye. If you think this is a retelling of the past, you can picture dilapidated mid-twentieth century televisions and furniture as the goods that fill up Standish’s home and school. If you see this as dystopian or post-apocalyptic, these things can have a more futuristic yet still rundown feel. I read the book through both lenses, and regardless of what time I put this in, the messages, heart, and action of the book weren’t affected. I love this chameleon-like quality in Gardner’s writing because it made me as the reader feel like I was shaping the story with her.

I also couldn’t figure out where the Motherland was supposed to be. My first thought was Germany, as there are references to gas chambers the Motherland uses to kill citizens they see as useless. Then I changed my mind and decided Britain because the accents and sayings of the characters seem decidedly British. I did some research and found out that this is meant to be set in a fictional and brutal 1950s Britain, but even knowing that it still seems like Gardner has left the door open for readers to envision this world however they want.

What I liked most about Gardner’s writing was that while the environment and genre felt fluid, Standish is such a solid character that he stands out regardless of the environment he’s placed in. The desperation you feel through him as he sees loved one after loved one harmed by the Motherland, the hope you feel emanating from him for a better future, and the bravery he exhibits in the face of murderous authority are all so strong. Two characteristics stood out to me about Standish in particular: his self-discipline to prevent himself from demonstrating just how smart he truly is in order to be able to blend into the crowd and not draw unnecessary attention to himself, and his unending imagination that surrounds Standish with lovely worlds despite the horror that takes place around him. Standish is a character that really stands out in YA. When I finished “Maggot Moon,” I was in that mode of pensive stunned silence, mulling over the messages of Gardner’s book. Reflecting on the book a few days after finishing it, I find myself slipping back into that pensive mood, and I think that’s the best gift an author can give.

Good Points
Fluid genre and environment that allows the reader to shape the story with Gardner.
A moving and brave protagonist who is faced with terrifying challenges.
Lessons on humanity and how we treat one another.
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Maggot Moon

Written in Standish Treadwell's perspective, Maggot Moon, written by Sally Gardner, shows a wonderfully exciting story on a distopian era. Similar to the author, Standish is dyslexic.  Regardless of his learning disadvantage, he was a hero. He lived in zone 7 with his 
grand father and the area was a place where violence and depression was common. The book was in much like a Nazi-Germany-ish type setting. In school, Standish was beat and bullied by his teachers and classmates but escaped the bullying thanks to Hector, a friend who understood him. 
Wanting to escape the cruel and harsh world he lives in, Standish and Hector imagine a more calm and enjoyable place where they can drink 'croca-cola' and ride in their sky blue colored Cadillac.  
Maggot Moon,  A 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book is written in one hundred exciting, short chapters. The story definitely shows the difference between reality and what is being shown. It brings spirit to the readers by its 'David and Goliath' type of story. The book is a quite simple yet very fascinating. Because some parts of the book contains strong language, I suggest this book to young adults, not so much on the "pre-teen young". 
Sally Gardner, a London resident, with dyslexia, is an award winning author who has sold over 1.5 million copies in the U.K. She is a strong supporter of dyslexia. "It takes time to work out how to deal with it, but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift." I believe that Maggot Moon, showing from Standish's story, shows  how even if you have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, or you are different from others, you still have the capability of accomplishing so much.

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