After their mother’s probable suicide, Jazz and Olivia Moon struggle to move on with their lives. Olivia, an 18-year-old who can taste words and see sounds, blinds herself by staring at the sun, then decides to walk to the remote setting of her mother's unfinished novel to resuscitate her hopes and dreams. Jazz, 22, plagued by unresolved conflict with her mother and a hidden trove of her unsent letters, takes a job in a funeral home before being forced back into the role of her sister’s keeper.
The sisters’ journey through the wilds of West Virginia, disaster-prone from the start, takes a turn when they meet two train-hoppers with dangerous secrets, and Jazz learns that Olivia holds a dark secret of her own in the form of their mother's final unread letter. Mistrust, resentments and new attachments threaten to tear the two apart, until a final bizarre misadventure forces them to decide what’s really important.
This mesmerizing coming-of-age novel, with its sheen of near-magical realism, is a moving tale of family and the power of stories.
Praise for The Moon Sisters
-The Moon Sisters is named one of the BEST BOOKS OF 2014 by Library Journal.
-The Moon Sisters earned a STARRED review from Library Journal.
-The Moon Sisters earned a STARRED review from Booklist.
-The Moon Sisters is named one of the BEST BOOKS OF 2014 by BookRiot.
-The Moon Sisters e-book reached #10 in ‘Bestselling NOOK Books’ at BarnesandNoble.com, and became a Kindle ‘#1 Best Seller’ in Amazon’s Mothers & Children fiction category.
-The Moon Sisters is named one of the top five must-read books for summer by Yoga Journal.
-A review for The Moon Sisters is published in The Roanoke Times. You can read the full review, which does a fine job at discussing the story’s understated philosophical underpinnings, HERE.
Walsh’s second novel (after The Last Will of Moira Leahy) is a story of sisters Jazz and Olivia, who take separate but winding paths toward moving on with their lives after their mother’s suicide. Jazz, older and angry, decides to plunge into a new job while Olivia, who can see sounds and taste words, runs away to the remote setting of her mother’s unfinished novel. Jazz follows, determined to drag her younger sister home, only to be met with more roadblocks as Olivia attaches herself to a train-hopper who insists he can’t be trusted. Tension between the siblings mounts on the way to their destination as each sister is hiding secrets about their mother. VERDICT Walsh has written a beautiful, lush novel fueled by a fairy-tale journey of grief, love, and will-o’-the-wisps. Fans of coming-of-age novels and magical realism will be drawn in and may never want to leave. —Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW)
Jazz and Olivia Moon are about as different as sisters can be. The death of their mother, which appears to have been a suicide, hits them both hard, but their reactions are completely opposite. Practical, 22-year-old Jazz gets a job at the funeral home that handled their mother’s funeral, while dreamy 18-year-old Olivia half blinds herself by staring at the sun and decides to visit a bog to catch sight of the wisps that her mother talked and wrote about. Accompanied by reluctant Jazz, Olivia sets off, but when the bus they’re driving breaks down, Olivia makes the rash decision to stow away on a train. There she meets a tattooed, reticent young drifter named Hobbs, who agrees to help her find the wisps. When Jazz catches up with them, she’s immediately put off by Hobbs and furious with Olivia’s refusal to give up her mission or accept that their mother’s death was a suicide. Both heartbreaking and hopeful, the Moon sisters’ journey is no quixotic quest, and readers will find themselves completely immersed in their transformative search. This magical, moving tale is not to be missed.—Booklist (STARRED REVIEW)
Walsh’s luminous second novel (after The Last Will of Moira Leahy) examines the disparate emotional and physical journeys undertaken by two sisters from the town of Tramp, W.Va., after their mother’s death. Because Olivia Moon is cursed (or, arguably, blessed) with synesthesia, a condition that causes her to taste sounds and see smells, her mother, Beth, decides to homeschool her. Beth is a dreamer who writes letters to her estranged father that she never mails and works on a fantasy story that she is afraid to finish. Olivia’s no-nonsense older sister, Jazz, is adamant about not following in their mother’s footsteps. When Beth dies from inhaling gas from a stove—whether she does so accidentally or willfully is not known—Olivia sets out on the daylong trip that her mother had planned on making, to a cranberry bog where Beth hoped to see “ghost lights” and be inspired to finish her book. Jazz secretly follows her sister and they end up joining a small group of “train hoppers” who spend their lives riding the rails. Walsh explores how the sisters’ experience of the outside world transforms their views of each other and themselves, in a book packed with invention and rich characterizations.—Publishers Weekly
Therese Walsh has done it again. She is fast becoming known for delivering lush, emotional and deeply atmospheric reads that never disappoint. Her second book, The Moon Sisters, is a magical journey of grief, hope and the power of family bonds. It is a novel for the senses, a harmony of sounds, sights, scents and tastes, the likes of which you have never experienced before. You won’t want to miss this one.”—Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of Lost Lake
Emotionally taut and intricately woven, The Moon Sisters takes us on a dreamlike journey that is at once literal and literary. A story of family ties stretched to their limits and the underlying wound that both binds and breaks them. Therese Walsh has created a compelling read I couldn’t put down and a world of authentic travelers who linger long beyond the final pages. A tale of true sisterhood.”—Brunonia Barry, New York Times and International bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places
Therese Walsh is a gifted storyteller whose lyrical prose captures the uniqueness of her characters and the compelling, slightly mystical nature of their journey. The Moon Sisters is a tale of two sisters — unalike in a multitude of ways — and their quest for understanding the secrets of their late mother’s past. The trip Jazz and Olivia take together naturally strains the bonds of an already difficult relationship, but what is slowly revealed during their time away from home proves to be truly enlightening to them both…regardless of how differently each perceives the world. This is a novel about love, hope and, above all, acceptance. Readers will find themselves caught up in a kaleidoscope of sensory details and the richness of a story beautifully told.”—Marilyn Brant, USA Today bestselling author of The Road to You
The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh shimmers on the precipice where the grief-stricken teeter between loss and recovery, a place that often resembles madness. Sisters Olivia and Jazz battle as they hold each other tight in this touching coming of age tale that weighs family loyalty against distinctive truths. Walsh leavens magic realism with humor, balances enchantment and pragmatic truth, and stirs them into a poignant family story.” —Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters
They say opposites attract — unless those opposites are sisters. In that case, the electricity between them can make them crackle and spark so hard they may fly apart forever. Olivia and Jazz are as different as sisters can be and still come from the same family. In lyrical prose, Therese Walsh crafts an enchanting, mesmerizing tale of two women whose fight to go their separate ways during a time of loss may be the only thing that can hold them together.—Liz Michalski, author of Evenfall
The Moon Sisters is a novel to fall in love with, to break your heart over, to linger with and think about after you’ve finished the last of Walsh’s lovely, singing, heart-wrenching words. There is magic in the story and in the language itself and you’ll find yourself wanting to buy a copy for your sister, or your best friend, just so you have someone to share it with.”—M.J. Rose, International bestselling author of Seduction: A Novel of Suspense
Are you interested in book club materials?
In order to provide reading groups with the most thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of this book—as well as the ending. If you have not read The Moon Sisters, we respectfully suggest that you wait before viewing this guide.
Are you interested in meeting with Therese?
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As time allows, more content will be added to this page, including trivia, information about synesthesia, and a deleted scene snippet or two.
In the meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy these two fun offerings. Find out which of the Moon sisters you most resemble by taking our Personality Quiz just below. And if you’d like to know what your train name might be if you decided to become a hopper, have a look at our Name Generator. Enjoy!