Thanks to books like this, no one is ever alone
Luna Rae is Not Alone by Hayley Webster, published by Nosy Crow
"There's nothing worse than feeling like you're the only one in the world."
Luna Rae is Not Alone is a warm and witty story about a ten-year-old girl coping with a new home, a different school and the irrational and irresponsible behaviour of her parents. Although Luna hates when adults lie to children, she finds herself being dishonest with her teachers, her friends, her little sister, and even herself. This story takes us on Luna's journey as she gradually stops pretending.
Told in the first person, with a fresh and compelling narrative voice, Luna Rae is a wonderful character. At times, Luna seems more mature than many of the grown-ups but she is just as vulnerable as any other child. Luna suffers from the anxiety that is to be expected from a person who has had too much responsibility placed on them and who "notices everything."
Luna is remarkably perceptive and reflective. I love when she asks questions like, "Do I keep on this path I've started, where only one way of doing things will do?" Another favourite line is when she says, "Sometimes you have to make yourself look vulnerable and show others how you feel in order to make the things that matter happen."
I love how this doesn't shy away from some of the harsher the realities of life, like depression and unhappy marriages. As Luna says, "I think grown-ups should tell kids about these things sometimes... Because otherwise if it ever happens to them when they're grown-ups, they'll feel like the only ones in the world, like there's something really wrong with them, and it might make them feel worse."
This book is incredibly beneficial for children in situations similar to Luna's. Although it unfolds gently, this is a powerful story which helps young people to understand that they are not alone. Luna Rae also shows readers that shoud they ever feel like Luna's parents in the future, they won't be the only ones in the world then either.
Luna doesn't have a perfect life or family and is a character with which young people can easily identify. The friends and teachers in Luna's new neighbourhood are wonderfully supportive. They emphasise the importance of finding people you trust and sharing any concerns you might have with them. This is a valuable lesson to learn at any stage in life.
Hayley Webster is a primary school teacher who has also written One Christmas Night for adults and the Teacup House series for emerging readers. I really enjoyed this impressive middle grade debut and look forward to reading more books by this author.