PACK UP THE MOON by Rachael Herron (plus giveaway)

Rachael Herron’s Pack Up The Moon is about parenthood, secrets and grief, and the many permutations that each can take in a lifetime.

Kate and Nolan were high school sweethearts whose rosy future abruptly ended with Nolan’s family moved away senior year. Unbeknownst to Nolan, Kate was pregnant when he moved. She never told him, and instead put her infant daughter up for adoption. The baby was adopted by a lesbian couple, who named her Pree.

Twenty two years later, Pree tracks down Kate. In the intervening years, Kate and Nolan reunited and eventually married. They had a son, Robin, who developed cancer at the age of 8. Despite intensive treatments, Robin’s cancer proved fatal, and while he was in the end stages of the disease, Nolan hastened his death by running the car in the garage while they were both in it. Nolan survived, Robin died.

When the book opens, Pree has just found Kate, and Nolan and Kate, now divorced, haven’t been in contact for years other than the occasional email sharing memories of Robin. Nolan has served time in jail for euthanizing his son. Pack Up The Moon explores Kate and Nolan’s guilt – toward each other, toward their children – as well as the secrets they kept from each other over the years, including Kate’s not telling Nolan about Pree, and Nolan remaining silent about what happened the day that Robin died. Pree, meanwhile, has secrets of her own that have propelled her to find Kate and establish a relationship with her.

Pack Up The Moon sounds like a very depressing book (surprise!), and the passages about Robin and his death are certainly very, very sad. But this wasn’t a depressing read. I liked the characters, who were quirky and different. Nolan was pretty interesting to me – a former lawyer now working on a street cleanup crew, the only job he could find after serving jail time for mercy killing his son. Pree is a video game designer and into street art stickers, a subculture that I knew nothing about. Kate was a pretty complicated character too – she seemed rather straightforward at the beginning of the book, but the end reveals many complexities and surprises within.

Some of the book felt unrealistic to me, in particular a scene at the end that took place on a boat, when Kate and Nolan have gathered to spread Robin’s ashes into the San Francisco Bay and Kate has (inexplicably) invited Pree to join. I found the passages describing the interplay between the characters the most convincing and interesting. These flawed but human characters were thrust into rather extraordinary circumstances, and I thought Herron did a good job of trying to predict how they might react. She was also generous in her depiction of the various ways we experience grief. Nolan, for example, found solace at his son’s grave (despite his role in Robin’s death), while Kate couldn’t bring herself to visit it. Kate’s grief about her mother’s death was very different from that about her son’s, while her own mother reacted in different ways to Kate’s giving away a baby at 16 and her losing a son in her 30s.

Pack Up The Moon wasn’t perfect, but it was an interesting read with some characters that have stayed with me in the days since I closed the book.

Depressing-o-Meter: 6.5 (which is surprising given the subject matter)

NAL has offered me a copy of Pack Up The Moon to give away to an EDIWTB reader. If you’d like to win a copy of the book, leave me a comment here and I will pick a winner next Wednesday, March 26. Good luck!


  • March 19, 2014 - 5:31 pm | Permalink

    This sounds right up my alley. I find the subject of euthanasia provocative. Sometimes I think we treat our pets with more kindness and compassion than we do fellow humans, but then, I’m only speaking theoretically. I hope I don’t have to face that kind of a dilemma (at least anytime soon).

  • Erin West
    March 19, 2014 - 6:05 pm | Permalink

    This book sounds very interesting — I’d love the chance to win a copy. Thanks!

  • Lindsay
    March 19, 2014 - 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Sounds interesting. I would love to win!!

  • Pat Burke
    March 20, 2014 - 3:36 am | Permalink

    Sounds interesting, so would love a copy to read!

  • Sarah
    March 20, 2014 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a very multi-layered book! Intriguing review. Please put my name in the draw.

  • dawn h all
    March 20, 2014 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    I would love a copy! Beautiful cover and title!

  • Kayo
    March 20, 2014 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    Loved your review. Now I can’t wait to read it. Thanks!

  • anne
    March 20, 2014 - 10:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this intriguing giveaway which interests me.

  • ellie
    March 20, 2014 - 11:17 am | Permalink

    Captivating and unusual book. Many thanks.

  • Amy
    March 24, 2014 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a great book, thanks for sharing!

  • Marga
    March 24, 2014 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Sounds interesting – I would love a copy! 🙂

  • Suzy
    March 26, 2014 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I’d love to read Pack Up the Moon. It sounds like a great story.

  • March 26, 2014 - 6:31 pm | Permalink

    The book sounds very interesting. I’d love a chance to win a copy!

  • Pingback: Everyday I Write the BookPACK UP THE MOON giveaway » Everyday I Write the Book

  • Kim Buntin
    November 16, 2016 - 9:04 pm | Permalink

    What is the age appropriate for this book? My daughter is almost 12 and is interested in reading this book.


    • gayle
      November 16, 2016 - 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Great question! It has been a few years so I don’t remember it that clearly, but my instinct is that it’s a little old for 12 – especially the mercy killing. (I have 12-year old twins.) It’s sad and she might find it pretty disturbing.

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