Book Review: Carrying Mason, by Joyce Magnin

Carrying MasonWhat would you do if your best friend was suddenly gone?

If you’re 13-year-old Luna in Carrying Mason, you have enough to deal with trying to work through your own grief and trying to convince your dad to let you be a pallbearer at the funeral. But then another reality hits you – Mason’s mom, Ruby Day, is mentally challenged.  And with Mason gone, who will take care of Ruby Day?

The answer is clear to Luna as soon as she thinks of the question: she needs to leave her own family’s home and move in with Ruby Day. It takes some convincing, but Luna wins her parents over and starts a new life with Ruby Day. It’s not easy, especially when people laugh at Luna’s decision and she hears the ugly words some people use when they talk of Ruby Day. Then an aunt Luna’s never heard of appears out of the blue and wants to take Ruby Day back home with her – away from Luna, from Mason’s grave, and everything Ruby Day holds dear.

How can a 13-year-old stand up to a woman so rich she has fancy furs and a chauffeur? Who will take Luna seriously and try to help Ruby Day? Luna will do everything in her power to keep Ruby Day safe in their town instead of locked up in a home for “feeble minded” people. Because she’s learned that some choices are worth fighting for.

 ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Things to think about: Carrying Mason deals with some pretty serious topics – the death of a teenager, bullying, stepping up for things you think are important, understanding mental illness and how people are sometimes treated. The book is set in 1958, when mental illnesses and their treatments were more often misunderstood than understood, and when people who suffered from the conditions were often shut away from families and society because they were an embarrassment. Luna’s story can help open kids’ eyes to these things in a way they can understand without being too heavy.

Reading age: Carrying Mason is categorized as juvenile fiction, which usually means upper elementary and middle school readers. I would be fine letting a fifth grader read it, but probably not anyone younger than that. It’s appropriate for any middle school reader, and could be the jumping off point for some discussions about mental health, discrimination, life during the 1950s and 60s, and other topics.

Find more: Visit author Joyce Magnin’s website. Carrying Mason is available from Amazon, ChristianBooks, Barnes and Noble, and other online or neighborhood book stores.

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