Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Author- Grace Lin
Country- United States
Publisher-Little, Brown, and Company
Age-8 years onwards
How far would you go to change your fortune? How far would you go to see a flicker of a smile on your parent’s faces who toil in the rice fields from dawn to sundown with little to show for? How far is too far?
Minli, a little Chinese girl residing in the sullen, grey shadows of a fruitless mountain, embarks on an impossible and arduous journey. She has only her undaunted spirit, her steadfast faith, her father’s stories, and a tentative roadmap whispered by a talking goldfish to keep her going.
Lynn takes the element of Chinese fairytales and folklore, embellishes them with her creativity, lens them wings with her imagination, and sets them free. Much like the Dragon And butterfly kites, the children fly in the book to enjoy their last day of freedom from the evil magistrate.
The result is extraordinary and exciting at the same time.
The children’s kites fly to the old man on the Moon, bringing them unexpected pleasures, gifts, and blessings. In Lin’s case, her narrative thrust opens the gateway to the new realms, sending the readers on a ride with hard turns, deep dips—a truly adrenaline-kicking adventure.
Little Minli ventures on an expedition to meet the old man on the Moon—an all-knowing, clever, mythical gentleman known to exist only in fables. Minli’s head is crammed with questions, partly because of her dad’s fantastical stories that everyone, including her mother, disregards as fictitious worthless myths.
The stories, the questions that nobody in her village can answer, her mother’s wrinkled face because of abject poverty gnaw at Minli.
Why is the mountain overlooking the village gray, sullen and fruitless? Is it really the broken heart of a mother dragon separated from her children? She wonders. What would change their fortune—convert their cramped mud hut to the one glittering with gold and jade?
The questions pile up, nudging Minli on a breathtaking, tumultuous adventure. The quest itself is stupendous and exceptional.
Minli befriends a talking dragon who can’t fly and rubs shoulders with a buffalo boy who is content with his meager belongings and a secret friend. She encounters an emperor who opens his heart and gives away the only thing his ancestors had held on to for centuries. A chance rendezvous with chubby twins with ruddy cheeks results in Minli meeting some of the happiest people. That they survive in the harshest weather with nothing to live on, but flowering seeds showered on moonlit nights makes it even more enchanting.
Like a deft embroiderer, Lin takes these encounters as multi-hued loose threads. She maneuvers each of these stories on the fabric of the narrative, threading them into each other, looping them together, crisscrossing, knotting them on top of each other. And then, without forewarning, like an ace magician, she wows the reader with one last trick.
The effect is almost as if the embroiderer had flipped the fabric over. You can’t help but marvel at the spectacle before you. Every little knot, each tiny bump you witnessed in the back, makes sense. Every anecdote, each encounter, takes on a different hue as you look at the entire picture.
Tying the stories together, interweaving, and braiding them in an intricate pattern forms the bedrock of Lin’s graceful writing style.
Can’t recommend it enough for fantasy, folklore, and fairy tales fans. For me, it was a trip down my childhood when I spent hours in the company of Slavic and Russian folklore.
With this book, Lin opens the door to a vibrant, magnificent universe—where red strings transform into bridges to the Moon, kites carry messages to the Moon. And a healing elixir, called Moon Rain, falls from the skies.
In the book, the old man on the Moon ties red threads around the ankles of people destined to meet. The silk fibers get shorter as the appointed hour of meeting draws near, letting people bump into each other.
I think it holds true for the books, too; I found this book just when I needed it.
I Hope the man on the Moon tied you up to this one, and you find it soon.
Otherwise, you’d miss out on a delicious tête-à-tête.