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Friday, January 28, 2011

'Graffiti Moon' by Cath CROWLEY

From the BLURB:

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Lucy is finishing Year 12, and if there’s one thing she wants more than anything in the world, it’s to meet Shadow. Shadow who spray-paints images of sleeping birds, perfect blue skies and boys with grass-hearts. Lucy knows that if she meets Shadow, she will fall in love with him.

Ed has just been fired and needs to make rent money, pronto. Kicking around the city and spraying your heart on your sleeve is all well and good fun, but it won’t pay the bills.

Lucy has given herself one night dedicated to finding Shadow.
Ed has decided to risk life, limb and jail-time to earn an easy buck.

A collision is bound to happen.

Cath Crowley’s novel is like a Bill Henson photo. Soft around the edges, full of dark and luminescence and reminiscence that’s both heartbreaking and painful. In other words, this novel is incandescently wonderful.

Ed’s character is a vigilante spray artist. He’s not dissimilar to the UK’s infamously anonymous ‘Banksy’. Ed sprays images of honesty and discomfort on the sides of trains, storefronts and skate parks. When he breaks up with his girlfriend he sprays an image of himself with a grass heart, and her with a lawnmower. With any lesser novelist, ‘Graffiti Moon’ could have choked and perished with all the references to visual street art – but not with Crowley. Her words have a gorgeous lyricism to them. Her sentences run together like song lyrics and when her characters have so much passion for the art they are seeing, the lack of visualization and precision of description mean that Ed’s graffiti art is clear as day in the reader’s mind;
There’s one of Shadow’s pieces, a painting on a crumbling wall of a heart cracked by earthquake with the words: Beyond the Richter scale written underneath. It’s not a heart like you see on a Valentine’s Day card. It’s the heart how it really is: fine veins and atriums and arteries. A fist-sized forest in our chest.
Honestly, there were many times while reading ‘Graffiti Moon’ when I felt like putting the book down and simply applauding Cath Crowley. She is a wordsmith goddess, and (if you can believe it) ‘A fist-sized forest in our chest’ is just the tip of her talented iceberg.

Ed and Lucy are two marvellous characters. Lucy is a relatable artistic teenager – she’s a little bit too innocent, preferring her fictional Mr. Darcy to any of the real school boys (and ass-grabbbers) she knows. Lucy has her head happily in the clouds and an idealized love in her heart. For any bookish teen reading ‘Graffiti Moon’, Lucy is a mirror being held up. . . and she’s wonderful for her day-dreamy honesty.
“You’re not like other girls, you know that, right?” Ed asks.
“I've been aware of the problem,” I tell him.
Ed is a little rougher around the edges, but no less sweet for his bitterness. He dropped out of high school in year 10 and his beloved artist mentor has recently passed away. Ed is feeling left behind, stranded and in a chokehold of his own making. Ed is so many teenagers – those who feel helpless and clueless in their future. But Ed is also a sensitive artist, one who expresses himself on the wall with a can of spray paint in his hand. Ed may think he’s a no-diploma no-hoper, but readers (and Lucy) know better. And as if Ed’s sensitive scruff wasn’t endearing enough, he pulled this line out;
I shrug. I don’t want to get into this tonight. “What I'm really disappointed about is that Veronica Mars didn’t go past a third season,” I say. “And that Turkish Delights don’t come in king-size.”
A man after my own heart.

Ed and Lucy are adorable. Too adorable for words. A lot of their relationship is about build-up and deception. All of which is unknowingly building for one final crescendo-ending;
A guy who paints things like that is a guy I could fall for. Really fall for.
I'm so close to meeting him and I want it so bad. Mum says when wanting collides with getting, that’s the moment of truth. I want to collide. I want to run into Shadow and let the force spill our thoughts so we can pick each other up and pass each other back like piles of shiny stones.
The second I finished ‘Graffiti Moon’ I knew this book would be a ‘keeper’ – an instant favourite and one I will happily and frequently re-read. It is glorious and sweet, a tender tale of finding and expressing love.



  1. Bansky/"Exit Through the Gift Shop" was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read the blurb, even before I got to your review. Sounds like a beautiful story- going on my TBR list.

  2. Great review as usual hon! This sounds like a great book, though It's not something I'd regularly go for, at all!


  3. Beautiful review! Thanks for linking to Banksy, his work is really good. I've been curious about graffiti artists ever since I read this book but we don't seem to gave good graffiti art here in Manila. LOL.


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