Sunday, February 21, 2021

THE MOONLIGHT SCHOOL by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"An education, she believed, was the great equalizer, the answer to all life's injustices."

When her newly re-married father permits her to travel far from the city and into the mountains, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky prepared to help her cousin Cora Wilson Stewart with what she thinks is an overwhelming amount of paperwork; after all, her cousin is overseeing more than than fifty one-room schoolhouses through out the remote county communities. Startled to learn that a great deal of her job would be spent on horseback, Lucy pushes down her apprehensions, preconceptions, and inhibitions to forge ahead; meeting and assisting an array of ages, egos and personalities among the mostly illiterate "hill people". What she ends up finding is a purpose, something far more valuable than a finishing school education or a healthy allowance, for Lucy now understands that "all things can work together for good", even if it means "some things are best forgotten".

Dipping into the life of the very real Cora Wilson Stewart, through the eyes of a imagined young woman, whose childhood tragedy still strained to suffocate her confidence as a young adult, was a pure delight. Readers will enjoy every "trek" through the woods, every note of birdsong, every joy and discovery that education delivered into the hands of young and old alike, while turning the pages of The Moonlight School. The perfect blend of bleak and beautiful!

"Her breath caught, overcome by an unconscious awareness that swirled up somewhere deep inside her and filled her conscious mind. She loved this place. Loved the hills and the hollows and the people who lived there. She loved knowing she had a purpose to fulfill here. And for the first time in her life she knew what it was." 

*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a review.

BackCover Blurb:
Haunted by her sister's mysterious disappearance, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky, in the spring of 1911 to work for Cora Wilson Stewart, superintendent of education. When Cora sends Lucy into the hills to act as scribe for the mountain people, she is repelled by the primitive conditions and intellectual poverty she encounters. Few adults can read and write.

Born in those hills, Cora knows the plague of illiteracy. So does Brother Wyatt, a singing schoolmaster who travels through the hills. Involving Lucy and Wyatt, Cora hatches a plan to open the schoolhouses to adults on moonlit nights. The best way to combat poverty, she believes, is to eliminate illiteracy. But will the people come?

As Lucy emerges from a life in the shadows, she finds purpose; or maybe purpose finds her. With purpose comes answers to her questions, and something else she hadn't expected: love.

Inspired by the true events of the Moonlight Schools, this standalone novel from bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings to life the story that shocked the nation into taking adult literacy seriously. You'll finish the last page of this enthralling story with deep gratitude for the gift of reading.
Revell Publishing, February 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

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