Serious Moonlight is my first Jenn Bennett novel, but it won’t be my last! There is a huge laundry list of things I adored about Serious Moonlight like Birdie’s aunt Mona, her narcolepsy, all of her interactions with Daniel, and her insatiable love for books and mysteries.
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.
Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.
In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: suicide attempt, depression
I felt an instant kinship to Birdie. Maybe it’s because I grew up on Encyclopedia Brown as the first series I ever binged in elementary school, but I couldn’t help but love her awkwardness, but also her vulnerabilities. A spontaneous hookup ends up haunting her throughout summer and it forces Birdie to re-evaluate her opinions on love and herself.
But even more so, Serious Moonlight charms us. Whether you’re a mystery buff and you adore the way that Birdie and Daniel don their investigator hats, or you love books with strong female role models like Birdie’s Aunt Mona, there’s an abundance of things to love about Serious Moonlight.
Characters: Mona & Daniel
The relationship between Mona and Birdie was the best kind of pie. And while I’m on the subject of pie, get yourself a slice when you read this because all the descriptions of pies will make your mouth water. But back to Mona, she’s genuine, sarcastic, clever, and unabashed. One of my favorite relationships in Serious Moonlight is theirs, the way they interact, fight, and apologize.
I adored Daniel as a character. There’s something about not only his happiness, or his hearing impairment, or his Japanese American identity, but also his complex history. His family is incredibly cute – and I loved his relationship with his mother (give me all the single mother relationships). He is just so utterly soft, but he’s also hiding his own secrets, fears, and vulnerabilities.
Bye Bye Birdie
And there’s something comical about Birdie’s attempt to be someone else, someone new, and then it following her home – metaphorically of course. For both of them, there’s their attempt to find someone who won’t judge them, will see them with a clean slate. The death of Birdie’s grandmother, brings back the sadness of her own mother’s death, illustrating that you never really get over grief. That is comes and goes in waves.
Birdie is such a phenomenal character. She has all these vulnerabilities, her fear of people she loves leaving her, her complex family who disowned her mother when she became pregnant (and thus Birdies fear of being the furthest from that), not to mention her narcolepsy and denial. And Daniel and Birdie’s interactions, especially in the latter half of the book are some of my favorite period.
Serious Moonlight is a book that will thrill you, charm you, and move you. It’s a story about second chances, confronting our fears, and transcending our past. It’s about looking our doubt and terror straight in the eye and making the choice to persevere. To put down our expectations, see the authenticity in vulnerability, and happiness in the moment.