The Hunger Moon
Suzanne Matson
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Get *The Hunger Moon* delivered to your door! The Hunger Moon
Suzanne Matson
272 pages
April 1999
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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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 several levels.

Curled Up With a Good BookThe 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 ways.

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.

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