Reviews for Because of the Moon

From Resource Links Magazine. Connecting classrooms, libraries & Canadian learning resources

(Vol. 18,#1)

This novel is a lighter read for a novel depicting the life of a misguided teenager, alcoholism, demise of traditional ways and personal tragedies. While presenting these topics in a real and serious fashion, Cutayne makes them accessible to the average or even lower level reader. Students will enjoy the representations of Jay as a kid who just needs a little help and not as a kid who is past saving. Readers who have themselves in similar situations of being misunderstood will enjoy reading about how he learned to get his voice heard. AS well, this novel is an excellent one for those interest in native cultures and studies in Canada and provides a needed voice for this group in the YA market. Those readers interested in native studies or who enjoy reading reality fiction about people overcoming barriers will enjoy this book.

Resource Links Magazine

Reviewer - Alison Edwards

University of Manitoba: (Kim Aippersbach)

Jay is a First Nations boy who has grown up in the city with little knowledge of his heritage. His night-time graffiti activity gets him into a situation where he faces juvenile detention, but his grandfather comes into town to suggest he be sentenced to time on his remote reservation instead. Uprooted from his friends and his life, Jay is resentful, and he views the poverty of his grandfather’s village with contempt. He is slowly won over by the sense of community and the First Nations culture that the village elders are trying to preserve. His grandfather teaches him to carve a totem pole. Ultimately, Jay chooses to stay on the reservation and comes up with a plan to improve his tribe’s situation. The moon never turns her back on the earth, so Jay learns to contribute to his community “because of the moon.”

Cutayne vividly describes the Coast First Nations village and its inhabitants with realism, humour and sensitivity. Jay judges the place and the people harshly when he first arrives, but as he gets to know the various quirky characters and their stories, he—and thus the reader—is able to feel a connection and care about their fate.

Cutayne’s strength is also the weakness of Because of the Moon. She is very complete in her depiction of the village, so there are a lot of interesting characters and great description that don’t need to be there. The pacing suffers from too many subplots not adequately tied together. There is a bullying subplot and a teen pregnancy story that could have been eliminated. Because of the Moon contains a great story about the power of art and the artistic spirit to transform individuals and communities. It would be a stronger book if it focussed on this story and eliminated many of the side plots and characters.

Cutayne presents a great deal of information about the Coast First Nations people. Sometimes the information is conveyed naturally through the story, but sometimes it comes via stilted and didactic-sounding dialog. Because of the Moon could be an excellent book to immerse students in a culture they may know little about, but the intended audience will have little patience with didacticism and may lose interest in the episodic plot. The humour will grab their attention, however, and Jay is an engaging hero.


Kim Aippersbach is a freelance editor and writer with three children in Vancouver, BC.

Charlene's Review:
When Jay, born and raised in the city, finds himself on the wrong side of the law, his mother contacts his estranged grandfather, and the Court "sentences" him to live in his ancestors Indian village for six months. Jay is reluctant to give up the City he loves, and grudgingly attends a new school where he is taunted by the school bully. His days off are spent cleaning out his grandfather's garage, as community service. As the days go by, and he is enlisted in his grandfather's secret project, Jay finds himself at home in the village, and may possibly be the key that revives the reservation's way of life.

Because of the Moon is a beautifully written story. Culture and family pay a huge role in this story. As Jay learns pride in his work and his family history, he is transformed, and in turn, returns a village to its previous glory. A very simple and heartwarming story about finding out what really matters. It is labeled as a teen novel, but I found it equally as enchanting for adults. Ms. Cutayne has a gift for understanding adolescence and it shines through the character of Jay. Very enjoyable book with a lot of First Nations Indian history.

*Hard copy of book was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.


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