The small town of Mullaby in North Carolina, where everybody knows everybody else's business, is a tough environment for Emily Benedict to be introduced, a young teenager coming to live with her grandfather after the death of her mother in a recent car accident. The town indeed proves to be not very welcoming to Emily on account of her mother's troubled relationship with the son of one of the town's most important families, but it's a side to her mother than Emily doesn't recognise and is unwilling to accept. There are other secrets however in the town that people prefer not to speak about, but there are also others who try to make Emily feel welcome, making Mullaby a strange and sometimes magical place to the young seventeen year-old girl.
The Girl who chased the Moon does seem to be pitched as a young-adult book, confronting issues of bereavement, bullying, self-harm, sexual awakening and teenage pregnancy - or simply just the difficulties of any young person trying to fit into an adult world that is difficult to comprehend, seeming to be made up of secrets that no-one wants to talk about. The book is however is anything but academic in its treatment of these issues, delicately casting a spell of mild magic over it all, without diminishing the importance of the subjects.
It's consequently a wonderfully light and entertaining read, with a laid-back Southern States feel that is delightfully enchanting and never talks down to the young reader. The author presents reasonably complex characters who are not entirely one thing or the other, but rather show many facets of their personality and have the capacity to be reflective and change. The magical elements then are not a distraction, but a way of expressing the complex emotional make-up of the characters and the forces of attraction that lie between them, and it works wonderfully.