Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Once, in a Town Called Moth

Publish November 11, 2016

Trilby Kent, award-winning author of Stones for my Father, explores how family secrets shape our lives in her most recent novel, Once, in a Town Called Moth. Dragged on an intercontinental journey by her father in search of her mother, fourteen-year-old Anneli’s sudden immersion in Canadian culture requires more than a simple name change. Coming from a Mennonite colony in Bolivia, life in Toronto is a sharp contrast, and Anneli, now called Ana, quickly realises she doesn’t know the whole story about why her father wanted to leave home. Caught between two worlds, Ana searches for answers and a place to belong. In a style reminiscent of Miriam Toews, Kent tailors themes of community, the bonds of family and religion to a teen audience. Sheltered by her strict and structured upbringing, Ana struggles at first to find connection with anyone other than her emotionally distant father in a more secular society. Her age becomes an asset as Ana learns to adapt, finding solace and new challenges at school and a friend in Suvi, a persistent neighbour. Alternating between Ana’s honest examination of her past life in Colony Felicidad and a narrative of her current one in Toronto, Kent skillfully develops the conflict that resides in her main character. While Ana’s unique upbringing shields her from the real world in some ways, moving to Toronto highlights her parents’ choices and the secrets they keep, requiring Ana to mature quickly to care for herself. There are no easy answers to be found, but Ana’s genuine struggle to accept the truths of her family is compelling. With Ana’s inner complexity and her love of literature, Once, in a Town Called Moth is an enjoyable read for advanced teen and adult readers alike.

Once, in a Town Called Moth

Trilby Kent
Tundra Books, Penguin Random House of Canada
ISBN 13: 978-1-101-918-111