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“For somebody that hasn’t ever done anything, you sure do have a bunch of folks stirred up. . . He [the judge] is pretty pissed off over all of this. He wants to know just what he’s gonna do with a ten-year-old who’s shot at a law enforcement officer,” Officer Pete. –Alabama Moon
Alabama Moon #1
by Watt Key
For as long as ten-year-old Moon can remember, he has lived out in the wilderness in a shelter with his father. They keep to themselves, and their only contact with other human beings is an occasional trip to the nearest general store. When Moon’s father dies, Moon follows his father’s last instructions: to travel to Alaska to find others like themselves. But Moon is soon caught and entangled in a world he doesn’t know or understand. Soon, he’s become property of the government he has been avoiding all his life. As the spirited and resourceful Moon encounters constables, jails, institutions, lawyers, true friends, and true enemies, he adapts his wilderness survival skills and learns to survive in the world of people, and even, perhaps, make his home there.
While Moon’s life is not something most readers can imagine, they will soon be entangled in his story. When Moon’s Pap dies, Moon doesn’t understand why he can’t continue to live in his dirt hovel. Moon wrestles with his father’s ways as well as the world’s ways. Despite his loneliness, Moon fights everyone who tries to drag him away from his hovel to a boys’ home. Moon’s fight is both fast-paced, engaging, and full of surprises.
Alabama Moon takes the reader into the backwoods of Alabama and shows the beauty of living off the land. While the story is full of action, readers will also form an emotional connection to Moon’s story. In the end, many readers will be left in tears as they wonder why our world is so harsh. While Moon’s story ends on a hopeful note, Alabama Moon doesn’t shy away from the tough topics of death and the effects of war. But the main theme that shines is the importance of friendship.
The author’s love of the outdoors and his knowledge of nature allows him to paint a realistic picture of surviving in the wild. Alabama Moon combines intense senses with moments of tenderness and humor. The story highlights the father-son relationship and shows the deep love a son feels for his father—even when his father isn’t perfect.
Anyone who loves an action-packed survival story will love Alabama Moon. The characters are realistic and imperfect. The story doesn’t portray adults as always having the right answers, and some of the adults admit to having made a wrong choice. In the end, Moon realizes the importance of having friends and supportive adults in his life. Moon’s story will leave a lasting impact on readers, and will help them appreciate the people in their lives.
- When a store owner named Mr. Abroscotto says Moon’s father’s plan was crazy, Moon jumped on him. “I started hitting him with my one hand that wasn’t holding on to him. I pounded him on the cheek over and over as fast as I could. . .I kicked him in the knee.”
- When a social worker shows up to take Moon to a boys’ home, Moon “balled my fist, and socked him in the crotch.” The social worker “pulled his knees in tight as a baby and moaned curses at me.”
- When a constable tries to detain Moon, Moon tries to run away. Moon “punched him in the face as hard as I could. . . He stood up with me and crushed me against his chest. For a moment I couldn’t breathe, and I felt that my shoulders were about to snap. . . I spun around and bit him on the tit. . .” The constable is able to get Moon into the back of his car.
- After the constable talks badly about Moon’s father, Moon, “Jumped at him. . . I bit into his shoulder and chewed at it like it was tough gristle. . . He grabbed me around the waist with both hands and squeezed so hard that my body shot with pain and I had to throw my head back and cough at the sky.” Moon pees on the constable. The constable squeezes Moon until Moon is sick.
- The constable goes to see one of his renters, who is behind on the rent. He “suddenly let go of the steering wheel and backhanded the man across the jaw.”
- When Moon gets to the boys’ house, he meets Hal, who trash talks him. “I swung my arm from under the blanket and hit him open-handed across the face. . . the big kid recovered and grabbed for my feet. . .” Mr. Carter breaks up the fight. When Hal is disobedient, “Mr. Carter took two steps and grabbed him by the shirt collar. He lifted Hal like a scarecrow and dragged him across the room. He hung there, red-faced and coughing against the shirt that pressed into his throat.” Mr. Carter throws Hal outside and makes him sleep in the cold.
- Hal approaches Moon. “Hal was walking faster, and he seemed to have something in mind for me. . . While I was crouched down, I hit him as hard as I could in the crouch. Then I covered my face with my hands and started rolling across the ground.”
- The constable, Sanders, puts Moon on a leash and drags him around. “After we had traveled about a mile, Sanders yanked the leash so hard that I coughed against it. A sharp pain shot up into my head, and I gritted my teeth again. . . I rushed against the leash and felt it jerk me backwards until I lay flat in the leaves. Sanders laughed over me.” When another adult sees Sanders and questions him, Moon is able to run away.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Moon is put in jail. “The only other person in a cage, across the hall from me . . . said they locked him up for being too drunk and wrecking his car.”
- The constable uses Copenhagen chewin’ tabacco.
- Hal’s father is a drunk. Hal says, “My daddy never did learn to read good. He was so drunk most of the time, he could barely see.” When Hal’s father is driving home, he “pulled a bottle of whiskey from under the truck seat and took a swallow.”
- When Moon walks up to Hal, Hal “held out a bag of Red Man chewing tobacco” and asked, “you want some?”
- Profanity is used frequently. Profanity includes ass, crap, damn, hell, and piss.
- God and Jesus are both used as an exclamation several times. For example, after Moon hit Mr. Abroscotto, he said, “God, that hurt!”
- Several times someone called Moon a “little bastard” and a “militia bastard.”
- The constable asks a jailer, “Where’s that little pissant?”
- The constable tells Moon, “You ain’t nothin’ but white trash. Worse than white trash. . . You’re stinkin’ militia trash, is what you are.” The constable tells Moon that his dad was “some dirty low-life.”
- Four times, the constable uses the word “sum-bitch.”
- Someone tells Moon that Sanders “is a bully and a bigot. . . He’s unintelligent, and he’s mean and he’s in a position of power. That’s a bad combination to be facing.”
- A police officer tells Moon, “You’re a real pain in the ass, you know.”
- Moon’s aunt says, “My Lord” twice. For example, when Moon tells his aunt that he’d like to eat four times a day, she says, “My Lord!”
- Moon’s father “said you passed and came back as something else. It could be a squirrel or a coon. It could be a fish or an Eskimo. There was no way to tell.”
- At the boys’ home, a prayer is said before dinner.
- Moon’s father “told me I could talk to him be writin’ letters and burnin’ ‘em. He said you can talk to dead people that way.” Moon does this several times.