Orphan of the Moon: Notebook of a Girl in a Moscow Station | Spotlight Review

Thoreau Lovell. Sept. 2020. 88p. ISBN 9781732436961. pap. $18. Rated: Teen+. graphic novels
[DEBUT] Illustrated with scraps of Russian candy wrappers, cutouts from Soviet fashion magazines, and creator Libin’s own sketches and photographs, this graphic novella feels like a real diary one might find tucked under a bench in a Moscow train station. The unnamed narrator, whose mother abandoned her after a series of misfortunes, reveals a dreary tale of lost children living in the tunnels beneath the snowy streets of Moscow. They steal and scavenge to survive, fantasize about American tourists whisking them away, sniff glue and drink pilfered beers to forget their harsh reality, even as they keep ahead of the police, rival gangs of orphans, and greedy pimps who are always lurking on the fringes offering false promises to the girls, who crave family and belonging.
VERDICT Libin’s lyrical, short prose poems are consistently bleak and sometimes maddeningly vague, but she occasionally hits on an evocative image that transports readers straight to the frigid midnight streets of Moscow. The book’s design will appeal to fans of zines and other DIY literature, making it a good fit for edgier, experimental adult collections.
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