Benjamin Ludwig's debut novel, Ginny Moon is already one of my favourite reads for 2017.
Fourteen year old Ginny is autistic. After some false starts, she is in what is hoped to be her Forever Home with her new Forever Mom and Forever Dad. At nine, Ginny was removed from her Birth Mother's care after she was found physically and mentally abused. She likes things precise - time, questions, the order of things. But most of all she wishes she had her Baby Doll from her mother Gloria's house. She worries constantly about it and won't accept any substitutes. She needs to look after Baby Doll and will do anything to make sure it is okay. To do that, she must find Gloria.
In the author's words: "...the rawness of her hunger - the utter fierceness of her desire to return to the place from which she'd come..."
Ginny Moon is told entirely from Ginny's viewpoint - and in Ginny's voice. That voice is compelling and heart-breaking. There is something in her past that the adults in her life do not seem grasp. I had a looming sense of dread as to what that might be. Ginny's view of the world makes perfect sense when seen through her eyes. The frustration of the adults around her is voiced through her observations. And as readers, we can see what Ginny cannot intuit.
Ginny is one of those characters you just want to sweep up into your arms and look after. But at the same time we can see why that might be difficult. We can see it because Ludwig has done an absolutely fantastic job of portraying this wounded, gifted child. He's done such a bang-up job because he is writing from experience. He and his wife are themselves the adoptive parents of an autistic teenager. (Who loves Michael Jackson as much as Ginny does)
But at the root of it all, we all want the same thing as Ginny..."I need to belong somewhere..."
Absolutely, positively recommended. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll hope, you'll wish - and you'll not be able to put the book down. Read an excerpt of Ginny Moon.
You can connect with Benjamin Ludwig on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.