Books — Blow Out the Moon

English boarding school, fictionalized version

By Lisa Parsons []

Blow Out the Moon, by Libby Koponen, Little, Brown & Co., 2004, 209 pages.

Young American girl spends a year in England with her family, but resides at a boarding school on her own for a term. Travels on ship, rides train, misses best friend from home, tries not to cry. Writes stories, makes mischief, hates classmates, loves classmates. Learns horseback riding, fountain-pen writing and proper manners. Reads Little Women, attends slumber parties, refuses to sing “God Save the Queen,” tells everyone in England about Boston Tea Party.

It all really happened to Libby Koponen; some 20 years later, she’s turned it into a novel with pictures. An eager, innocent and wide-eyed junior novel in which the author shows enthusiasm by putting words in capital letters, an average of once per page (“I would NOT cry,” “ONLY a year,” “But I DID learn why iron ships don’t sink…”); a rather plotless and, the reader eventually realizes, destination-less (it is a true story, after all) scrapbook-like novel, one that will provide “American Girls” collectors and their ilk a good-quality fix of English boarding school atmosphere (which is like summer camp with more linens and fewer bugs). Not great, not bad, just there——like England, like boarding school, like life.

Actually Blow Out the Moon is a bit better than just there, and if it’s un-thrilling because it has no adventurous plot, it’s all the more interesting because it’s someone’s real life.

- Lisa Parsons

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH