The MoonStone Girls

Fiction - LGBTQ
340 Pages
Reviewed on 12/15/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anelynde Smit for Readers' Favorite

The MoonStone Girls by Brooke Skipstone is a very moving story about the true struggles many gays and lesbians faced in the early 60s and 70s. You envy her bravery and tenacity, and you find that Tracy is a woman on a mission. We follow her as she discovers that she has no interest in men, but is attracted to women in the late 60s. At this time there was no LGBTQ community she could go to, and she was all on her own, except for her brother Spencer who was gay. Their love for music is what eventually pulls Tracy through difficult times, especially when something very tragic happens to her family. She decides to leave for Alaska, leaving her abusive father behind, hoping her mother would join. There she finds two people who would change her life forever.

The MoonStone Girls by Brooke Skipstone is a wonderful read. Sometimes a difficult one because of how Tracy and her brother were treated by the only person they needed love from. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I do feel like this is something people in our community should read. There is a life lesson to be learned from this tale. My heart broke at some stages and I remember what it felt like being different and being treated differently for liking both genders. This was inspiring and honest. Anyone who still has that question deep inside should look at this book and find solace. This is a fantastic story with so many moments that you want to laugh and cry. I highly recommend this book to anyone in the LGBTQ community and I believe these words will help many find their “true” selves. In this day and age, we are more accepted, but to imagine her struggle will give you hope. Spencer’s story will tear into your flesh and leave marks. Tracy’s story will soothe your soul. This is a book of pure hope.

Samantha Gregory

The MoonStone Girls by Brooke Skipstone is the story of Tracy and her brother Spencer. They both have to deal with being queer in a time when it was illegal. The story begins in 1967 when Spencer plays piano at his fall concert. His father already calls him names for not being 'manly' enough in how he acts. Tracy and Spencer are miserable, each wishing they were born the opposite gender, but neither being able to express this. Spencer is threatened with going to war, while Tracy chooses to run away, to go to Alaska to find herself.

Brooke Skipstone has created a well-written and thought-provoking book with The MoonStone Girls. Being queer is not easy for someone today, but back in the '60s, it was something no one dared talk about. Tracy and Spencer go through a lot on their journey to really just being their true selves. The characters were well developed and I enjoyed Tracy's and Spencer's stories. While facing insurmountable odds, they do have each other for a time. Though their father behaves badly, he is a product of his own upbringing, where it was considered a bad thing to act in any way that a man wouldn't. I think plenty of people still know someone like that today. I think this book would be enjoyed by readers who love LGBTQ books, as well as young adult books that deal with real issues. I would definitely recommend it; it was an enjoyable read.

Ray Hosler

The MoonStone Girls by Brooke Skipstone is a work of fiction that reads like an autobiography, one that gives an honest, raw portrayal of a family grappling with LGBTQ issues in the tumultuous 1960s. The main character, Tracy Franks, is a “tomboy” who lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she excels at playing the piano and basketball. As a young teen, she realizes she has feelings for girls and wants to dress and live like a man. At the same time, she discovers her brother, Spencer, is attracted to boys. Their parents try their best to mask their children’s sexual desires and make them “straight.” While their mother and coaches show empathy, their hard-nosed father refuses to accept them for who they are. A talented pianist like his sister, after Spencer’s spectacular performance his father grumbles, “Why are you being so prissy in front of all these people?” The story follows the family’s downward spiral and Tracy’s escape to Alaska where she hopes to start a new life.

Brooke Skipstone does not shy away from describing the sexual side of her characters, their loves, and their desires, sure to stimulate a flood of memories. There is also sorrow in this novel filled with pathos. Empathetic readers will wish that things could have turned out differently as the family rapidly disintegrates. The uplifting moments come when Tracy travels to Alaska and falls in love with the wilderness (and more), especially the view of Mount McKinley. The author effectively captures the chaotic social upheaval of the 1960s by mentioning popular songs of the time. Baby Boomers will instantly recognize these classics. The MoonStone Girls is one of those life-changing “coming of age” stories that captivates and draws you into the author's world, one that challenges the conventional precepts of men and women and who they choose to love. The author does not preach but tells what happens when love, respect, and compassion take a backseat to rigid thinking.

K.C. Finn

The MoonStone Girls is a work of fiction in the historical fiction, LGBTQ+ and coming of age subgenres, penned by author Brooke Skipstone. The work is intended for the mature young adult reading audience and contains explicit language and sexual situations as well as references to homophobia pertinent to the time period, and suicide. Our protagonist is Tracy, a person born into a female body, who finds herself experiencing queerness in the late 1960s alongside her brother Spencer. When both are discovered by their homophobic parents, Tracy sets about an escape plan to the blissful promise waiting for her in Alaska. But she’ll have to disguise herself as the boy she’s always wanted to be in order to get there.

Author Brooke Skipstone has crafted a stirring work of fiction with plenty of realistic highs and lows to offer readers. The setting lends itself beautifully to this novel, where conflicts over peace and love start within the home and extend to the shores of war overseas. I felt for both Tracy and Spencer deeply, and I found the struggles that Skipstone writes about to be well-researched and highly empathetic. Tracy’s dialogue and articulation about gender struggles and conflicting identities were never preachy or stereotypical, and though it was a major element in the novel’s success, there are also plenty of other wonderful characters to discover and more surprises in store that really make this feel like a fully rounded coming of age story. Overall, I would highly recommend The MoonStone Girls to fans of queer historical fiction and highly emotive mature teen novels.

Rabia Tanveer

The MoonStone Girls by Brooke Skipstone is a fantastic novel that focuses on human desires, wishes, and coming to terms with who we really are. Set in the 1960s, Tracy and Spencer are siblings who love music and are very sure about their sexuality. Spencer is sure he was mistakenly born a boy and Tracy is sure her gender at birth was a mistake as well. They both are queer, awkward, and ready to live their lives on their own terms. However, things change drastically for the siblings when they are found with their gay partners and things go to hell. While Spencer has to face the possibility of being enlisted in the army for the Vietnam war, Tracy is left to find her place in a world where people like her are not welcome. Deciding to move to Alaska dressed as a boy, the 17-year-old Tracy chases her freedom and a place she can feel like herself. Will the siblings find what they are looking for?

The MoonStone Girls is touching yet very powerful at the same time. Spencer and Tracy are not comfortable with their gender, and their sexuality. They struggle with having a father who pushes gender stereotypes on them; they struggle with a rigid father who doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to understand. And this tussle leads the siblings to lose focus and get a little lost. While Tracy is more adamant and stubborn, Spencer is milder and a giver. He is quick to please whereas Tracy is ready to fight for Spencer and herself. Brooke Skipstone put so much thought and effort into the story, and you can feel it. Each chapter reveals more about the protagonists, each dialogue further cements the images of the characters and helps them shape their future. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone and everyone because this needs to be read!