I don't know how to start this review, there are so many things I want to say about Graffiti Moon. I guess I'll start with this: Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
The Deal: Lucy and Ed had one horrible date, years ago. He may or may not have grabbed her ass, she may or may not have broken his nose, they may or may not have ever spoken again. There is absolutely no way, ever, that she would agree to hang out with him ever again. Except maybe if her best friend has a crush on his best friend and if the boys promise that they know, and can find, the elusive graffiti artist Shadow that Lucy is obsessed with. Luckily for us, both of those things are true and we get to follow along as Ed leads Lucy through Shadow's favorite spots and they figure out together why their fateful date went so wrong and what has happened to each of them in the in-between time.
What Worked: This is easily the least realistic, realistic novel I've ever read and it's such a tribute to Cath Crowley that I didn't figure that out until I sat down to write about the book. It's that good, the world-building just sweeps you in and you forget to question the likelyhood of a high school girl wrangling a glass-blowing apprenticeship or a high school dropout name dropping Mark Rothko. I also loved that I wasn't quite sure who Ed would end up with by the end of the book. Of course everything in me that's ever read YA before told me he'd end up with Lucy, but the case for his recently ex-girlfriend is pretty strong too and I spent a good chunk of the book in actual suspense over his eventual choice.
What Didn't Work: Even with all the awesome world-building and suspension of disbelief, Crowley's descriptions of Shadow's work took me right out of the story. She set him up as a straight painter, an artist who makes "pieces" using only spray paint and walls. The pieces she describes though are very clearly the type of thing that would normally be done as wheat pastes or stencils; complicated and detailed pieces that are mostly constructed off-site and then applied to the wall in question. For more information on the different types graffiti art, see these videos featuring a totally bomb-ass girl that I used to babysit for. We did these educational videos as part of an assignment I did in library school about graffiti and the intersection with teen culture. As you can see, this is a topic that interests me a whole lot.
Anything Extra Special?: I'm so glad you asked. As mentioned above, anything dealing with graffiti is probably going to get a thumbs up from me.
But I am also an Australiaphile (which is apparently a real thing) and this book's setting as well as all the talk about Australia's educational system were super interesting to me.
The other really truly awesome thing about this book is what I call the "Hocus Pocus Effect." Y'all remember the movie Hocus Pocus right? I can wait if you need to go out and re watch it really quickly. Anyway, all the action in Hocus Pocus takes place in one day, and mainly over the course of one night. This time limit, artificial or not, serves to ramp up the drama with each little action taking on greater significance because it limits other possible decisions. Graffiti Moon takes place all in one night, from the end of the last day of school through the very beginning of dawn the next morning. So much happens in this short little time, and you're not sure what will happen after the book is closed, but this one chapter in the characters' lives is so perfect and neatly wrapped up that it almost doesn't matter.
Would I Read It Again?: Again and again and again