Suzanne Matson's The Hunger Moon is the first novel from
this poet and essayist, and it found a place on the summer list of
Barnes & Noble's Discover program. A well-paced story of three
women in different stages of their lives whose worlds intersect in
important, life-changing ways, The Hunger Moon is a perfect
read for the sunny season. A quick read with more substance than your
average beach book, Matson's first full-length fiction satisfies on
The Hunger Moon is told from three points of view. Renata
is a waitress and new mother hoping to start a new life with her infant
son all the way on the opposite side of the country (Boston) from where she
started (Venice, California). Convinced that the baby's father won't
be a good one, she's decided not to tell him about his son. She is
determined that she and her child form a perfect little family unit.
Renata gets a waitressing job at a posh restaurant and an apartment
next door to Eleanor MacGregor, a seventy-eight-year-old widow and
retired judge who has finally given in to her children's insistence that
her old house is just too big for her. Eleanor finds that once all of
her belongings have been packed and moved to her new "home," she'd
rather not give in to the urge to put everything back in the same
relationship to everything else. She begins experiencing lost
time, confusing the present for the past, and hires on a young woman
named June to help her with cleaning and grocery shopping.
June has wanted nothing her entire life other than to be a dancer. The
only child of a broken marriage, June has a dangerous obsession with
food, counting strict calories to maintain a dancer's physique most of
the time, going on dangerous cycles of binging and purging when she
loses control trying to fill the emptiness she feels. June admires
Mrs. MacGregor, though she's concerned about the older woman's occasional
lapses of clarity, and she finds another joy in life babysitting for
Renata's baby Charlie.
These three women form a contented little network only for a short time.
Renata's ex-boyfriend shows up, June gets devastating news at a meeting
with the head of an important dance company, and Eleanor suffers from
increasingly frequent lapses of memory. These occurrences will irrevocably
change each of their lives in frightening and ultimately transforming
Suzanne Matson captures the motives and emotions of her three main
characters in believably engaging fashion. She makes touchstones of
some of our most basic human fears and needs, and fashions around those
a quietly moving tale of friendship, loss and taking chances. The
Hunger Moon is an impressive debut that will make you hope that
Matson doesn't stop at one.