Title: Once in a Town Called Moth
Author: Trilby Kent
Publisher: Tundra Books
Release Date: September 6th 2016
A gun in a lake. A Missing mother. Ana is on the run. But from who? For fans of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly.
Ana is not your typical teenager. She grew up in a tiny Mennonite colony in Bolivia, and her mother fled the colony when Ana was a young girl. Now Ana and her father have also fled, and Ana doesn’t know why. She only knows that something was amiss in their tight-knit community. Arriving in Toronto, Ana has to fend for herself in this alien environment, completely isolated in a big city with no help and no idea where to even begin. But begin she does: she makes a friend, then two. She goes to school and tries to understand the myriad unspoken codes and rules. She is befriended by a teacher. She goes to the library, the mall, parties. And all the while, she searches for the mother who left so long ago, and tries to understand her father—also a stranger in a strange land, with secrets of his own.
This is a beautifully told story that will resonate with readers who have struggled with being new and unsure in a strange place, even if that place is in a classroom full of people they know. Ana’s story is unique but universal; strange but familiar; extraordinary but ordinary: a fish out of water tale that speaks to us all.
I received an a finished copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not impact my review whatsoever nor was I compensated in any way.
I did an interview with Trilby, which you can find here.
Once in a Town Called Moth is a contemporary novel that focuses on Anneli — a 14-year-old Mennonite girl who’s uprooted from her community in Bolivia by her father to move to Toronto. She doesn’t know why they’re moving, only that her father is looking for her estranged mother who disappeared in the middle of the night, many years ago.
This book is so far out of my comfort zone. It’s definitely not something I would choose to read very often, but I was lured with the promise of beautiful writing. There are bits and pieces that are particularly descriptive and profound, but I didn’t find myself drawn into the world and the writing. I'm not sure whether to think it's just me and my preference for sci fi and fantasy or whether it's just the novel.
I like Anneli — or Ana, as her name is changed when she moves. She is doing her best as she moves from a small Mennonite community in Bolivia to the busy, concrete city that is Toronto. The social codes are different and the entire culture is different from what she’s used to. Thankfully, she makes some friends to help her get through it and to guide her along the way.
Suvi lives down the street from Ana and is the first person her age that she meets in Toronto. She is lively, fun-loving and doesn’t particularly care for what other kids are saying. She introduces Ana to her childhood friend, Mischa, who has a talent for opera singing and drawing. The two of them introduce Ana to daily life as a teenager in Toronto and while they do question her about why she doesn’t know a lot of the things they take for granted, they don’t push at her for it.
There’s a part in the middle-ish of the novel where Ana borrows a book from a teacher (a hot teacher apparently), but he doesn’t have it on him. What does he do? He offers her a ride so that they can go to his apartment to get the book. I shut the book when that happened, because omyGOD, do not get in a car with a teacher. The teacher should not have offered to do that bc liability and serious trouble. And while nothing inappropriate happened, it’s still generally not a good idea for either party. And after they visited his apartment, the teacher even took Ana out for dim sum! *screams* omyGOD.
The book doesn’t go by chapters and instead switches back and forth between Ana’s life in Toronto and her life in Colony Felicidad. The Toronto portions are the main storyline and the Colony Felicidad portions are related to the Toronto bits and also are important to some of the revelations that Ana has.
Once in a Town Called Moth follows Ana on her journey to discovering who she is, why her mother left all those years ago and the reason she and her father left Bolivia for Toronto.