The Half Moon

The Half Moon
Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Year: 2023
ISBN: 9781982172602

Keane’s previous novel, Ask Again, Yes is an excellent, complex novel about two families from several years ago. She’s narrowing the lens this time and focusing on a couple, Malcolm and Jess who are navigating their marriage while trying to keep a bar afloat (Malcolm’s dream) and start a family (Jess’s dream). When both those dreams start to crumble, their marriage does as well. Set over one week in a blizzard, this novel weaves emotional literary fiction with the mystery of a missing bar patron.

Keane is a masterful writer and the dark emotions of her characters always ring true. At the same time, I find her work a bit bleak, and that bleakness doesn’t let up. A bit of levity would go a long way in making these characters more rounded–and helping me to care about them, and the outcome, a little more.

About the Book

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Publisher’s Description

Malcolm Gephardt, handsome and gregarious longtime bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar. When his boss finally retires, Malcolm stretches to buy the place. He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to transform it into a bigger success, but struggles to stay afloat.

His smart and confident wife, Jess, has devoted herself to her law career. After years of trying for a baby, she is facing the idea that motherhood may not be in the cards for her. Like Malcolm, she feels her youth beginning to slip away and wonders how to reshape her future.

Award-winning author Mary Beth Keane’s new novel takes place over the course of one week when Malcolm learns shocking news about Jess, a patron of the bar goes missing, and a blizzard hits the town of Gillam, trapping everyone in place. With a deft eye and generous spirit, Keane explores the disappointments and unexpected consolations of midlife, the many forms forgiveness can take, the complicated intimacy of small-town living, and what it means to be a family.

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