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The Girl on the Moon
Julie Mannix von Zerneck. Blue Blazer Productions, $16.95 trade paper (204p) ISBN 978-0-9857358-5-2
Drawing on themes of adoption and reunion from her memoir, Secret Storms, von Zerneck spins an implausible but affecting fairy tale. In a church in 15th-century Paris, the young painter Lucienne Badeaux lights a candle for her late father and is killed by a pack of wolves, a scene referencing a bizarre incident in Parisian history. She is reincarnated as Josie, born in 1946 to Philadelphia socialite Jewell Russell, and begins a career in journalism. She gets pregnant by her married editor, Aaron Goldman, and agrees to give up the baby for adoption with Jewell’s help. Two years later, Josie marries Aaron and has two more children, but the identity of her first daughter, Kate, is kept secret from her by Jewell. Von Zerneck weaves the separate stories of Josie and Kate, showing how Josie channels her anguish and guilt over her lost daughter into a series of successful children’s books about Luna, a girl from the moon, while Kate becomes powerfully drawn to Badeaux’s painting of a Parisian church. Though the plot races by with minimal emotional interludes and the coincidences are too convenient, von Zerneck succeeds at making Josie a woman to root for. Readers who enjoy stories that celebrate familial bonds will appreciate this. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 01/24/2020