Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Coming of Age
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store
A resident of Dallas, this is actor and writer Kevin Crank’s first novel. For more, visit his website.
“Wallace Johnson longs to leave country life behind him. Vowing to find a way to pay for and graduate from college, he doesn’t realize the price he will have to pay to get it. Not only does he have to fight against his dad’s pre-conceived plans of following in his footsteps of living on a farm, he also has a crooked sheriff and a childhood nemesis to deal with, as well as family loss, all before his eighteenth birthday.
Leaning heavily on his brother to guide him, Wallace grows up quickly in a world where moonshine affects the lives of those dearest to him. Through it all, he falls in love with his high school sweetheart. However, after a time of separation without any word from her, they finally reunite and Mary reveals secrets of her past that might hinder their future together.
Wallace now has a choice to make. Will he leave the country life in which he was raised to pursue a career as a writer? Or will he forget all his dreams for the woman he loves?”
Where the Moon Shines Brightest is a coming-of-age story set in rural Southwestern Arkansas in the 1950s. In spite of my complaints which I’ll get to shortly, there is a good story here. The protagonist, Wallace (never Wally), is a teenager with ambition, hoping to attend college to become a journalist and author, and willing to work hard to achieve his goals. But like most teenagers, he’s also figuring out life. Helping him are his older brother and his parents, although his father has plans for Wallace that conflict with his personal goals. The two brothers are much different in what they’re looking for in life, but his brother Lantis is an excellent mentor and always has Wallace’s back. The story revolves around themes of family, duty, love, and geographical roots.
However, I had two issues with the way Wallace’s story was presented. The first was a tendency to over explain or over describe. Although this can be a valid stylistic choice to add color or control pacing, too often it felt like the story was bogging down as I read all the steps required to get out the door or make breakfast. Other readers might not react the same (Robert Parker’s Spenser novels are prone to this, and they did okay).
My bigger issue was the ending. Not what happened, but how the reader is told, and what that does to the pacing of the story. Things appear to be coming to a climax at about the 85% point, with a major story thread coming to a head. I turned the page, expecting that the next chapter would get more intense as that came to a final resolution. Instead what happened was a six year jump in the timeline and the fast pace comes to a crashing halt in a section that reads more like an epilogue. Through flashbacks we find out how the first thread resolved, another complication is thrown into the mix, and the pace builds again from there. Eventually the main story conflict comes to a resolution. But by that point, as a reader, I was so frustrated that it was more of an anti-climax.
No significant issues.
Rating: *** Three Stars