The Next Full Moon - Carolyn Turgeon Once upon a time, an almost 13 year old girl is on her way to enjoying a day at the lake when she begins to sprout feathers. Is she a freak? Or is there something special about her?

I honestly didn't realize that this was a juvenile/middle reader book until I started reading it (though I had a good idea it was when I bought it, based on the price). I don't typically read a whole lot of books from this age group for whatever reason, so reading something for the tween set was an interesting departure and also a great learning experience.

This is a book that I think tweens (9 - 12 girls, because the main character is a girl and there is a lot of talk about boys and kissing, which I don't think most boys the same age would care about, though I am probably wrong) would probably adore. In fact, I would probably recommend this book to a tween girl who isn't too hot on reading to get her started on the addiction.

The characters felt fairly realistic. I say "fairly" because it has been awhile since I was almost 13 and because a lot of the things Ava and Morgan talk about/do weren't things that I did. For instance, Ava is pretty boy crazy over Jeff Jackson. At some points, it threatens to dominate the story and turn this into a typical contemporary romance. Now, I do think the romance was age appropriate and well-done (not too much dramatics you wouldn't expect in the early teens/late tweens), but I really wanted to focus more on Ava and her feathers (and Ava's mother). Another thing that felt weird to me was how easy it was for Ava to deceive her father about the feathers and how she didn't want to talk to him about them. I know that if I were in Ava's shoes, the first person I would have told would have been my parent, especially my only living parent who has cared for me since I was 3. But I don't want to come down too harshly on Ava; she really is a good girl who tries to do the right thing, even though some of her logic fails (such as not going with just any stranger at night, but then opening the door to said stranger when she is alone at home--I would definitely recommend parents discussing this with any tweens reading this book).

The relationship between Ava and Morgan was also refreshing. I liked how Ava had a real female friend--even if Ava does go on and on at times about how annoying Morgan is (though I tried to imagine it more as a playful banter than Ava being REALLY upset about Morgan). I thought some of the other relationships could have been brought into more focus. Ava and her grandmother were great, but we only get two relatively small scenes. Same with Ava and her dad (which does tread that interesting, challenging "Not a girl, not a woman" stage you would expect in someone about to turn 13). As for the whole "mean girls" thing--saying that Jennifer Halverson is a mean girl and having her say a few things that are slightly mean does not make a very good antagonist.

The story is ostensibly about Ava growing feathers, but there are times when this thread disappears for other side stories--and this book is not even 200 pages long. I would definitely have liked to see about 100 pages more detailing more of Ava coming to grips with her feathers and her newfound history because I definitely enjoyed those parts. The other side stories either got to be too long (Jeff Jackson) or skimmed over (Ava's birthday party). When only a week has passed and we are at the halfway point, I knew that Turgeon would likely have to start skipping time to get to the birthday party (skipping over the all-important exams and how Ava did on them) and that is exactly what happens. Exams happen; Jeff and Ava are an item; and so on and so forth (there was a time that it seemed the plot had disappeared). The actual birthday party that has been building up to be a big thing ends up being glossed over and suddenly, we scream into the ending, breathlessly wondering what has happened.

One of the biggest "problems" I, as an almost 30 year old woman (God, I feel old), had with this book was the lack of a driving force. There is no "bad guy", there is no world that needs saving, no MacGuffin to be found, no evil force to be defied. On one hand, I liked this; sometimes, I get tired of some character having to Save the World from Vaguely Defined EVUL. And I do like character studies, and I think this book is trying to be more of a character study than ACTION ADVENTURE CHASE GO GO GO! But, like I said earlier, there are times when it seems the plot disappears, and I am sitting there, wondering, "Why am I reading this to the end again? What is the big payout I am looking for?"

I really was impressed with Turgeon's writing. Somehow, it balanced between being poetic and pretty and appropriate for the intended age group. As an adult, I didn't feel like I was being talked down to too much, and there were definitely some passages that were breathtaking to read.

Thinking back on this book, I really think your enjoyment of this novel will come down to A) your age and B) your expectations. My review may seem a bit critical, but that is just to an adult's eyes. I think tweens would really love this book; I would almost love to give this to my almost 13 year-old self because I think she would ADORE it. And as long as an adult realizes that this is a juvenile novel with less complicated issues, I think even adults could enjoy this. So when you see that three stars above my review, don't run away immediately from this book. Check it out if you can and see if it suits your fancy.