Young Annie’s life was perfect until she uncovers a nasty family secret, something her parents have been doing for years.
Now she knows about it, she cannot continue to live like this, but her protests fall on deaf ears.
How can she hope to change what has become a way of life for her family?
Her struggle to change everything only makes her life so much worse, forcing her to try to escape, but how far must she run to escape the truth?
Can Annie make a new life for herself, or will they hunt her down and bring her back?
Bad Moon is narrated in the first person by Annie, a young girl who lives happily with her family: mother (Ruby), father (Jed), and older brother (Nathan). She adores her father, although her mother’s behaviour is far from exemplary (she regularly invites other men to her home and that results in incidents with her husband, who takes it out on the men and seems remarkably tolerant of his wife’s behaviour). At first, Annie is worried that she might end up becoming a woman like her mother when she grows up and thinks it is all due to her mother’s family (her father says that her mother was born under a ‘bad moon’ and she comes from ‘the Hills’ where people seem to have their own morality and rules of behaviour). The inhabitants of the Hills seem to be directly related to those of The Hills Have Eyes or the banjo players in Deliverance. What Annie doesn’t know is that things are worse than she ever could imagine. She has lived all her life in a world of lies and secrets. She is convinced she must learn the truth to avoid history repeating itself and is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that. The costs are high indeed.
Annie does not have much formal schooling (she decides to leave school when she realises things aren’t as they should be) but she is extremely articulate, and some of the descriptions of the landscape surrounding her home, her experiences and dreams, her mystical feelings on visiting the caves previously inhabited by a Native-American tribe, and her reflections are beautiful and lyrical. We might disagree with some of her decisions but it is difficult not to admire her determination. She never tries to be liked or makes excuses for her own behaviour (she might blame others at times, but despite not being a believer or having much in the way of role models, she does question her actions and tries to make things better), and she is neither all good nor all bad. It’s a testimony to the skill of the author that although Annie’s head is not a pleasant place to be in, we can’t help but wish she’ll succeed and live to see another day.
I couldn’t worry about Ma now and we sat quiet for a while, watching the birds settle for the night. The sun going down laid a blanket of red across the field, like the blood of generations being pulled back from the earth. As if they were trying to remind us they were still there and trying to tell us something. As the sun continued its journey down for the night, the blood colour shrank across the field, as if it were trying to catch up with the setting sun before the moon could touch it with its silvery fingers.
I’d walked across the field many times when it was bathed in that red glow and the feeling of belonging was stronger then, but to what? I still couldn’t figure it out as the feeling didn’t last long enough. I’d talked to Ma about it and all she said was, ‘Some folks never find the place they belong, but you keep looking, Annie, for you just might.’ She said it in a way that made me feel it was real important to keep looking.
I got to thinking that no one really knows what they’re talking about for they never finish what they’re saying. About halfway through they go all dreamy looking like they’re remembering something, but they don’t know what it is anymore.
A soft wind came up, carrying a chill around its outsides, the way it does when the middle’s still warm. Nathan put his shirt on, saying he was going for a walk. That was something he’d taken to doing more and more often and I knew he wanted to be by himself. I still had the candy bar in my hand, and I put it in my pocket before going inside. Not that I thought Ma would take it, I just didn’t want her to know that Nathan had given it to me. Should she ask, I could lie but Ma had a way of knowing a lie when she heard it.
I wasn’t sure why I didn’t want her to know, maybe it was because she was acting funny and like Nathan said, there aint no telling what she’s gonna do next. But maybe it was something to do with Nathan; he had given me something more than just a candy bar. I got the feeling we could be close again, but he didn’t want Ma to know about it.
Ma didn’t put meat out for supper, just bread rolls and cheese and the pickle that Ma made herself. I didn’t feel much like eating, but breakfast could be a long time coming if you got real hungry. I sat at the table, picking at it until Ma said food weren’t for playing with. I heard what she said, but my mind was on the caves and the way Nathan spoke about them. I couldn’t wait for sunup…