Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Published April 2019
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
“Family isn’t always blood, and it isn’t contained in a single tree. It’s a forest.”
Summary (from Goodreads)
Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.
In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
“Judging other people unfairly doesn’t define them; it defines you. And in the end everyone will be disappointed.”
The first time I read this book was fall 2019 when it was being offered as one of Riveted’s monthly free reads. I had never heard of Jenn Bennett, but the synopsis sounded okay and I gave it a try.
My expectation: a cute story where the romantic interests had an awkward first meeting, and then reunite later because of work and properly connect over solving a mystery.
I suppose in its simplest form, that is what the story was, if a bit heavier than I would have liked. It wasn’t until the second time reading the book that I realized where the main problem lie for me.
Seven months after finishing the book, I was trying to find an audiobook to put on as background noise. When I do this, I usually only pay half attention to it, so I like for it to be a story I’ve already read. I realized I remembered absolutely nothing about this story, so I put it on.
Turns out, I did remember some details. The problem was, for me, this story covered two very distinct plotlines, and I had somehow separated the two as completely different books. In my mind, they did not connect at all.
Story line #1: Birdie has an awkward first encounter with Daniel that she can’t get out of her head. Fast forward a little bit, and she ends up at a job working graveyard shift at a hotel…with Daniel. She tries to avoid him, while he tries to get closer to her. Eventually they discover a mystery involving the hotel and decide to solve it together. Will they fall in love before the mystery ends?
Story line #2: Birdie has a sleeping disorder, specifically narcolepsy. It affects her day-to-day life, and she has seen first hand at how dangerous it can be. She refuses to talk to anyone or address the condition, but as time goes on, she realizes that she can’t keep putting it off.
For some reason, I just have a hard time following both storylines within this same story, especially when, at first glance of the synopsis, this story is supposed to be focused on a mystery and romance.
My other main problem with this book: I can’t go into details because of spoilers, but the last part of the book and the end made me mad. Not cool, Daniel. Also, really Birdie? That easily? Really?
I think it’s safe to say that at no point did I find myself invested in the characters. This also meant I cared nothing for their relationship. And also, the ending may or may not have had me highly disliking both of them, for different reasons.
The mystery was very lackluster as well. There was just so many things going on, and so many heavy topics being covered and backstories trying to be revealed, and somehow the mystery just seemed in the way of everything. I understand life really is as messy as this story makes it out to be, but I find it very difficult focusing on a hundred different “stories” at the same time.
As stated, this book does deal with heavy topics. Unfortunately, I don’t want to spoil the readers, but please be aware of this. This book also deals with sex (positively, as her books tend to do).
Things I did enjoy in this book:
- Narcolepsy representation, because honestly how often do you see that in YA books?
- Bennett’s use of descriptions for places and people
- How Birdie made little character profiles for everyone, just like she was in a mystery novel
- Daniel and Birdie’s date(s)
- Birdie’s relationship with her grandfather…also her Aunt Mona
- Mona’s role in the story… even if some of her decisions were, uh, questionable at best…
- The Moonlight Diner
I know I’m forgetting things because it’s been months since I’ve read this and this book was very non memorable for me. However, I will be continuing to read the author’s books as her writing style is very easy to read, her characters are (mostly) realistic and real, and also I’ve since read another of her books (Starry Eyes) that I really enjoyed.