Beautiful Moon: Wakes Me Up Before the Sunlight

Maria Alice Silva-Amey

Publisher: Outskirts Press Pages: 262 Price: (paperback) $21.95 ISBN: 9781977242228 Reviewed: April, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

Mary Alice Silva-Amey’s novel Beautiful Moon is the story of a woman named Lara Alberene, who describes the struggles she’s encountered in her life.

In a vague setting that might be somewhere in Brazil, the book is composed of vignettes that begin with the story of a pair of Lara’s great-grandparents, who seem to be forbidden lovers. Later episodes include Lara’s on-and-off romance with Francisco and the scars left by a cousin, Alfonso, who sexually abused Lara and her best friend. Interspersed are childhood memories of a beloved doll; a memorable getaway with a boyfriend; marriage; and a tragedy that strikes a friend, Carlos, when a group of friends are vacationing together.

Without a developed narrative structure or character arc to link events, the episodes feel disjointed and incomplete, failing to speak to one another; for instance, the murder of a brother is introduced at one point, then never mentioned again, while Alfonso’s abuse is frequently rehearsed but never resolved. Scenes begin but aren’t completed, and the first episode often bears no logical relation to the one following (for example, in one episode Carlos is mortally wounded, then he and his friends are subsequently drinking and having fun).

A compelling central character could provide structure, but Lara lacks the ability to articulate her experiences or feelings in ways that make her seem like a relatable or maturing character; she often comes across as self-absorbed, foolish, or simply naïve.

The prose style is equally challenging to decipher. At times the images rise to poetry; other times the language is so unclear as to suggest a lack of facility with English or perhaps idiom in a native tongue that doesn’t translate well.

Characters’ names change between and sometimes within paragraphs. Quotations marks are random or missing, making dialogue difficult to follow. Frequent proofreading errors add to the confusion.

One senses passion and sincerity in the attempt, but Lara’s tale needs rigorous editing to make an appealing story.

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