Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Serious Moonlight by Jenn BennettSerious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 16, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book Depository

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

With Bennett’s YA debut, she became one of my favorite contemporary authors. She strikes that balance between fluffiness and real life problems that makes for the best contemporaries imo. Serious Moonlight may just be my new favorite Jenn Bennett novel, which is impressive because I really, really love The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. But Serious Moonlight‘s phenomenal in terms of romance, character arcs, and plotting.

Four books in, Jenn Bennett’s books have a clear signature that sets them apart from other authors: her characters have unique career dreams. That very much applies here. Birdie Lindberg dreams of being a private investigator because of her love of detective novels. Despite Veronica Mars, that’s not a particularly common aspiration.

Birdie’s character makes her aspirations much more interesting too. She’s not the sort of person you would imagine to be fascinated by the grisly or with the desire to search out mysteries. Birdie is socially awkward, deeply anxious, and quiet. That doesn’t mean she can’t be observant or love solving puzzles. Bennett shows that you don’t have to fit a stereotype to dream of a particular career.

When we first meet Birdie, she’s freaking out because she’s afraid to bump into the guy she spontaneously had sex with (her first time) in the back of his car. That’s potentially awkward, but she also became overwhelmed about what she was doing and literally ran away at the end. Though she genuinely liked him, she never ever wants to talk to him again, because the whole thing is just so completely awkward.

So, of course, he turns out to be her coworker at her new summer job, where she works the night shift at the front desk of a fancy hotel. Daniel Aoki drives one of the hotel vans. Poor Birdie’s absolutely horrified, and poor Daniel is thrilled but then deeply concerned because she keeps avoiding him. I relate so hard to Birdie’s discomfort with feelings and also how tempting it can be just to avoid someone to avoid tough conversations. Obviously her arc is learning not to do those things, but omg so relatable an instinct.

Daniel’s fucking adorable. He’s such an open and unapologetic nerd. His dream is to be a magician, like with the card tricks and sawing boxes in half thing. That sounds so silly when I write it, but I love how much it doesn’t feel silly in the novel. That’s a profession that gets roundly mocked in pop culture, but Bennett doesn’t put him down for his interest in it. He’s also really good at carpentry and really anything requiring quick, sure hands. *waggles eyebrows*

Since Daniel’s a smart boy, he gets Birdie to talk to him by sharing a mystery with her, so they begin to investigate together. Bennett’s one weakness for me so far in her YA novels has been plotting, but this one holds together quite well. The mystery is a mite predictable and anticlimactic, but I actually think that works well here because the mystery was really, even to the characters, an excuse to interact and something fun with which to pass the summer. They take it seriously, but it’s not a murder investigation.

This is how I pictured Daniel, who has long hair, often in a topknot.

Both Birdie and Daniel have really powerful character arcs, and this ship is so cuuuuuuuute. Like, Daniel took her on the best first date ever, and it’s so precious. As I said before, Birdie’s arc is all about learning to open up, to take risks, and to trust others. Because she spent much of her life homeschooled by her overprotective grandmother who passed six months before, Birdie doesn’t really know how to interact with others her age, and she’s unfamiliar with gossip. She hasn’t really learned how to trust, and, of the four people she’s really known and loved, two have died.

Daniel’s arc, if anything, is even more powerful, though obviously some of that happened in the past. He’s this really fun, happy, enthusiastic guy on the surface. It’s a reminder that you never know what someone has been through in their life. His back story nearly made me cry. It begins with how he lost the hearing in one ear but there’s so much more than that, and it’s so powerful that he came out of it so strong and bright. Therapy and self-evaluation is a big part of that, and I thought that the mental health elements of this book were done so well.

Every single Jenn Bennett book delivers shippiness on point with an amazing voice, but this may be my new favorite.

2 responses to “Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett”

  1. You just got me even more excited for this book, and I didn’t know that was possible! I LOVED Starry Eyes.

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