Ally, Bree, and Jack have almost nothing in common. Ally’s parents have been working for years to prepare the isolated Moon Shadow campground for a predicted total solar eclipse. She and her brother, Kenny, homeschool, and Ally is far more interested in astronomy and her work at the campground than in clothes, hair, or boyfriends. Bree, in contrast, is an “‘A’ clique” city girl determined to build a career as a model, while dissociating herself from her nerdy family as much as possible. Jack, shy and unsure of himself, has learned that his preference for drawing over homework has earned him a ticket to summer school.
But the eclipse is due soon, and things are changing. Jack is invited to trade summer school for a job as his science teacher’s assistant on an eclipse tour. Bree’s parents are taking over Moon Shadow for the next three years in order to do research, so Bree will be homeschooling in the woods while Ally goes to school in Chicago. All three are challenged in their perceptions regarding who they are and what they’re capable of, but two weeks together, waiting for the eclipse, gives them a chance to learn from each other and process these new ideas.
Mass creates engaging and likeable characters who demonstrate genuine growth, dependent in large part on an unlikely but believable friendship between the three protagonists. The secondary characters (the girls’ younger siblings and Ally’s friend, Ryan) are also well developed, active players in the story–so much so that it almost seemed odd that they weren’t given a voice. With this in mind, I think that readers as young as ten, especially those with an interest in astronomy, would quite enjoy the novel, without its feeling too young for early teen readers.
Watch a video of a total solar eclipse: