If My Moon Was Your Sun — the poetic title armtwisted me into choosing the book on Netgalley. If My Moon Was Your Sun — when I try the title in my mouth, it tastes like longing, nostalgia, and melancholy. But when I say the words again, hope slips out from somewhere.
Max is losing his grandfather to dementia. He is worried that he might forget him one day. So, Max goes to his grandfather’s nursing home to rescue him. As they sneak out from the nursing home, Miss Schneider joins them too. The trio goes to a beautiful place called Blossom Valley, where Max’s grandfather kissed his grandmother for the first time, and asked her to marry him.
There are magical places in the world — children know this, and some grown-ups know it too — places where enchantment is at work. Places that radiate a power, even at a distance, that reaches deep into our human thoughts and feelings. For some, it is a small, hidden lake, far out in the wilderness, a deep-blue lake in which all of the clouds in the sky are reflected. Others may find such a place in the middle of a bustling city where — on a busy boulevard — a lone flower holds its ground against exhaust fumes of the countless cars zooming around it. And for others still, it is the silence of the inside of a church.
During those few hours, when they are in their favourite place in this world, Max has a moving conversation with his grandfather about love and memory. Max might have kidnapped his grandfather. But that’s the cutest kidnap I have ever read. As the old man, and his grandson enjoy their day, Miss Schneider breaks into an elaborate dance routine.
Watching Miss Schneider dance was like watching the sun spill itself over the earth. Stiff arms and legs, now in motion, suddenly seemed touched by eternal youth, and from their graceful movements a lightness flowed throughout the valley: the yellow of the buttercups turned to gold, and the clover and grass shone greener beneath the light summoned by Miss Schneider’s dancing. Her movements grew ever wilder as she twirled, marched, stamped, threw back her head, and spin with flailing arms; and from her lips a bubbling, joyous laugh escaped in the glimmering air. It finally dawned on Max: she had been a dance instructor. Now she danced to the sun.
The police might have arrived at the end; Miss Schneider, and Max’s grandfather might have been sent to their home again. But I am happy for Max. He deserved that day with his grandfather, to lie in his lap again, to feel his warm hands on his face again, to listen to his comforting hum again, and to learn that his grandfather will always be around even after the disappearance of his physical presence.
A crow plays a pivotal role in the book. It is a fitting, metaphorical representation of the darkness that is always just an inch away from us even when we our lives are perfectly sunny. Max’s grandfather slips into the abyss of memory loss, and there is a crow. Max is anxious that his grandfather will completely forget him some day. And the crow is there. If we recognise the existence of the crow, and still choose to turn toward Miss Schneider’s performance that is dedicated to the sun, the darkness doesn’t seem that thick. Perhaps, that’s the important choice.
If My Moon Was Your Sun — written by Andreas Steinhofel, and illustrated by Nele Palmtag — is lyrical, heartwarming, and uplifting. I am glad I followed Max on his adventure today. The little boy taught me that I should go after what I love, and that it doesn’t matter if my success is transient. Max restored my faith in unconditional love. The grandfather reminded me that love does not die, even if the lover does. And Miss Schneider made me understand that I should dance to the sun. Even if I am losing my mind.