Serious Moonlight

432p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Apr. 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534425149.
Gr 9 Up—Eighteen-year-old Birdie Lindbergh is an aspiring detective and mystery-book aficionado. Raised by her conservative grandparents, she's also a self-described wallflower who's used to playing by the rules. After her grandmother dies, Birdie meets a charismatic stranger at the Moonlight Diner and shocks herself by spontaneously having sex with him in the backseat of his car. Then on her first day of her summer job at the swanky Cascadia Hotel, she discovers that her random hookup is none other than her new coworker, Daniel Aoki. Daniel (who is hearing-impaired) is gregarious and disarmingly honest, and he reels her in with the promise of a juicy mystery: Raymond Darke, a reclusive, best-selling novelist, checks into the hotel under a pseudonym every week for a few hours. As Birdie and Daniel sleuth their way across Seattle, they get to know each other through adventures including a murder-mystery dinner, the opera, and an accidental art theft. But as troubling secrets from Daniel's past are exposed, Birdie must decide whether to let her fear of loss keep her from a relationship that feels like it's meant to be. Imbued with a rich sense of place and the magic of first love, this is a heartfelt, sex-positive romance that tackles grief, depression, illness, and disability with nuance. Daniel and Birdie are mature, likable characters with strong communication skills, and the mystery thread is enjoyable, if not particularly mysterious.
VERDICT Compulsively readable and enormously fun, this is a first purchase for YA collections.

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