|image courtesy of Houghton Mifflin|
Harcourt Publishing Company
Everybody has food. Everybody has money. Everybody has a place to live. But Jon lives in a beautiful home with servants and gets special privileges because of his status as a "claver". The folks in White Birch struggle to earn money, work mediocre jobs, and are constantly at the mercy of the clavers. Anyone who is not a claver is a "grub". There is also a third class, somewhere in between claver and grub, and that's what Jon is. He's a "slip" because he and his family weren't rich or important enough to receive passes to the enclave on their own. They got passes from someone else and "slipped" into the enclave.
Each of these three classes resents all the others. The grubs are treated as dirty, no-good, slaves who don't deserve to be using the resources that the clavers need. Jon, who has family in both classes, is torn about how to feel. He wants his claver friends to like him because he doesn't want to jeopardize his standing within the enclave, but he also doesn't like that his family members on the outside are suffering.
And then Jon meets Sarah who changes everything for him, challenging him to reject the status quo and fight for love, family, and what is right.
If you haven't read the first three books in this series, I'd highly suggest that you do so before starting this book. It's not necessary, but this fourth book references a lot of things and people that happened previously, and I think it would be helpful to have an understanding of all of that.
Like the other three books, the latest in the series really makes you think. If you were in this situation, how would you react? If you were a claver, living the high life with money and servants and fresh food, would you continue living that life even if it meant treating others like dirt? If you were a grub, would you sacrifice your own life to stand up for equal rights and opportunities for all?
This book is age-graded 12 and up. There were many sexual references, but nothing in great detail. The claver boys in the story are pretty pig-headed and make references to their sexual conquests/rapings of grubber girls. In terms of bad language, I think there were only three or four bad words. Nothing too terrible. There is some violence in the book. People getting shot and pretty detailed descriptions of dead bodies and wounds. Not for the faint of the heart. Some people might ask, "Why is that necessary in a book for kids?" Well, it's necessary because it's true to the story. If something like this book happened in real life, it wouldn't be all peach scents and sunshine. There would be riots and violence and evil people and death. That said, I think the books have progressively gotten a little more detailed with all of that. I don't remember it as much in the first book in the series, and we read that with a middle school book club a few years ago.
The Shade of the Moon will be available to purchase on August 13, 2013. It is published by Harcourt Children's Books. I received a free advance reading copy when I attended Book Expo America.