Balsamic Moon | Critical Book Review

In the midst of impending catastrophe, Alan Gartenhaus’s “Balsamic Moon” takes readers on a gripping journey where survival hinges on an unexpected alliance between two near-strangers. Joelene Pynnonen delves into the intricacies of this indie literary novel, offering insights into its unique narrative.

Facing the Storm: A City Divided

As New Orleans braces for a Category Five hurricane named Katrina, the narrative unfolds with a distinctive focus on those who choose to weather the storm. Doreen Williams, accustomed to turbulent weather, dismisses the threat, anchored by the belief that her high-ground residence is immune. Meanwhile, her reclusive neighbor, Richard Girard, clings to his house and possessions, hesitant to evacuate. As the hurricane wreaks havoc, their lives intersect, and the realization dawns that survival demands an unexpected alliance.

Beyond the Conventions: A Realistic Exploration

Contrary to typical disaster narratives filled with action-packed sequences, “Balsamic Moon” diverges. Joelene Pynnonen commends Gartenhaus for crafting a thoughtful, nuanced, and authentic portrayal of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in 2005. The narrative meticulously captures the agonizing wait for rescue, the paralyzing anxiety, and the depletion of meager resources, creating a palpable connection between readers and characters. The narrative’s fluidity smoothly guides readers through the characters’ struggle for survival, vividly painting the oppressive heat and the pungent odor of floodwaters.

Unveiling Societal Strains: Acceptance and Rejection

While Hurricane Katrina serves as the backdrop, “Balsamic Moon” transcends a mere weather-related tale. Pynnonen observes that the novel delves into societal acceptance and rejection. Richard, a gay man, grapples with the distrust he routinely faces, compounded by his reclusive lifestyle. Doreen, a Black woman in a predominantly white area, confronts a lifetime of rejection. The unfolding interactions between these characters weave a complex tapestry of privilege, isolation, friendship, and community belonging.

A Heartrending Exploration: Messy Realities

Reading “Balsamic Moon” is simultaneously enchanting and heartrending, with characters that linger in the reader’s mind. Pynnonen reflects on the lingering feeling of incompleteness, mirroring the messy aftermath of the disaster within the novel. Gartenhaus leaves readers with a sense of disquiet, perfectly aligning with the atmospheric turbulence that permeates the narrative.

Book Details

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Atmosphere PressLiterary & General Fiction / Disaster Fiction254 pages978-1639885770

In the midst of impending catastrophe, Alan Gartenhaus’s “Balsamic Moon” takes readers on a gripping journey where survival hinges on an unexpected alliance between two near-strangers. Joelene Pynnonen delves into the intricacies of this indie literary novel, offering insights into its unique narrative. Facing the Storm: A City Divided As New Orleans braces for a…