Published on May 8, 2018
‘They think I hurt someone.
But I didn’t. You hear?
Coz people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.’
As Joe’s older brother nears his execution date, Joe journeys to visit him before the end. He struggles to understand what happened from the night Ed’s accused of murder through the twists and turns in the justice system. Now, barely able to provide for himself, Joe tries his best to support his brother and hold onto the hope that his brother will have justice before he dies.
Moonrise shines a light on some cracks in the criminal justice system. I feel like cracks isn’t the right word. Holes? Canyons? I’m not sure. Nevertheless, reading a story about someone who seems to have been wrongfully convicted can’t be easy.
Joe’s whole life is a struggle, but his brother Ed was one of the brightest spots in it as he grew up, fatherless, and with a drug-addicted mother. That changes when Ed goes to prison for murder, even though there isn’t much evidence to support the conviction. Now he tries to be a support to his brother in what may be his final days, even though he has no idea what to say or how to say it. Even though he can barely afford to survive on his own in the small Texas town where Ed’s imprisoned.
The story has a lot of grim moments, but it’s not without hope. Joe befriends a young woman who teaches him about forgiveness and love. He meets a Chaplin who challenges him to be strong. His sister and aunt find ways to love one another despite the difficult circumstances they find themselves in.
Did I like the story? For some reason, I find it tough to answer that. It’s an uncomfortable read in some ways. I found I couldn’t read it without examining my own thoughts on issues like the death penalty and police procedures surrounding suspects and pressure to elicit a confession. I think this was the author’s point, so in that way, the story must be a success. Was it a comfortable read? No. Not at all. But there are a lot of books worth reading that aren’t comfortable. I have to call this one of them.
Major characters are white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used moderately frequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Joe and his brother meet with a Chaplin who brings them comfort.
Joe’s brother has been accused and convicted of shooting a police officer. No descriptions of the officer’s death.
Joe and a girl smoke pot together in one scene. In another, they drink alcohol.