what the moon saw
14-year-old Clara Luna travels to Oaxaca, Mexico to visit the mysterious grandparents she's never met before. In their remote village, she discovers a part of the world and a part of herself she never knew existed.
Ages 10 & up, Delacorte/Random House, 2006, available as hardcover, paperback, and ebook.
* "The exquisitely crafted narrative includes Clara's first-person impressions and descriptions interspersed with chapters of her grandmother's story. The characters are well developed, each with a fully formed backstory. Resau does an exceptional job of portraying the agricultural society sympathetically and realistically, naturally integrating Spanish words and phrases in Mixteco into the plot without distracting from it. The atmosphere is mystical and dreamlike, yet energetic. Readers will relish Clara's adventures in Mexico, as well as her budding romance with Pedro. This distinguished novel will be a great addition to any collection." --School Library Journal, STARRED
* "Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here." --Kirkus, STARRED
* "[A] deeply felt, lyrical debut ... in poetic, memorable language, Resau offers a rare glimpse into an indigenous culture, grounding her story in the universal questions and conflicts of a young teen. Readers who enjoyed Ann Cameron's Colibrí, will find themselves equally swept up in this powerful, magical story, and they'll feel, along with Clara, "the spiderweb's threads, connecting me to people miles and years away." --Booklist, STARRED
Staying with families in Mixtec and Mazatec communities in Oaxaca (where I lived for two years and did Masters degree research) has been incredibly exciting for me. I've felt grateful for the chance to participate in their everyday lives and learn about their thoughts on spirituality and healing. I hold a deep admiration for the older women in these communities, whose work never ends. Many are herbalists, midwives, and curers; they hold their families together, possess curiosity and wisdom, and are always ready to throw their heads back in laughter. Many women have heroically overcome the obstacles in their lives' racism, poverty, domestic violence, forced marriages, lack of formal education. These women's struggles and triumphs inspired the character of Helena in What the Moon Saw.
Pedro's character grew out of a certain sadness and sense of abandonment that I've noticed in some Oaxacan villages. Many young people, especially young men, have moved away - either to Mexico City or to the U.S. - to try to provide a better life for their families. I've met many kids whose fathers are working in Chicago as dishwashers, in Washington state picking apples, or in North Carolina in the logging industry, to name just a few places. Some kids haven't seen their fathers (and sometimes mothers) for years. Some have never met their fathers because they left to work shortly before their child was born; these kids know their fathers only through videos and phone calls and photos. Some kids live with their grandparents because both their mother and father are working in the U.S.
Clara's spiritual journey was sparked by a sense of restlessness I had as a teenager, a feeling that there was something deeper, beneath the surface of life. Her exploration of identity as part of a multi-ethnic family is something several people close to me have experienced-- my adopted Korean brother, my half-German husband, my half-Thai cousin, and my adopted Guatemalan son.
Clara's father's struggle became clearer to me as I listened to the feelings of my friends and ESL students here in Colorado who are working in the U.S. to support their families in Latin America. It's a huge challenge for them to build a life here while maintaining strong connections to the families and communities they left behind.
- What the Moon Saw Discussion Guide and Activities (by Laura)
- What the Moon Saw Readers' Log (by teacher Beth Knees)