All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr
A big-hearted story of love and resilience, starring sisters and storytellers Peijing and Biju, a lost family finding their way, a Little World made of paper, a Jade Rabbit, and the ever-changing but constant moon.
Making mooncakes with Ah Ma for the Mid-Autumn Festival was the last day of Peijing’s old life. Now, adapting to their new life in Australia, Peijing thinks everything will turn out okay for her family as long as they have each other – but cracks are starting to appear.
Her little sister, Biju, needs Peijing to be the dependable big sister. Ma Ma is no longer herself; Ah Ma keeps forgetting who she is; and Ba Ba, who used to work seven days a week, is adjusting to being a hands-on dad.
How will Peijing cope with the uncertainties of her own little world while shouldering the burden of everyone else? And if Peijing’s family are the four quarters of the mooncake, where does she fit in?
Published 5 July 2022 | Publisher: Penguin Random House | RRP: AUD$16.99
Buy it at: Dymocks | Booktopia | A&R | Abbey’s | QBD
My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)
What we all should be is our favorite versions of ourselves
I am very privileged to have been gifted this copy by the author, Shirley Marr, and even as I got to read this second (my 12 yo got his hands on it first), I am truly humbled by the reading experience. Such a moving story overflowing with feelings and many sage advices.
The novel opens with a beautiful celebration of Mid Autumn festival amid the utter shambles of moving. The Guo family is leaving the very next day, to fly over the vast ocean, away from the embrace of their big noisy family. They are moving to Australia for a better job for Ba Ba (father), better education for the girls, and a better life for all the family. I remember my own big move to Australia and all the feelings which Peijing, our protagonist, struggled with; it’s big and complex and the author has caught all this perfectly in Peijing.
The Guo family is made up of some truly beautiful characters: wise Ah ma (grandmother), surprisingly involved Ba Ba (father), broken but strong Ma Ma (mother), a very good older sister (Peijing the protagonist), and a lively younger sister (Biju). They are not perfect but they are a family. While the story is told from Peijing’s perspectives and we see her struggles most (especially in the big adjustment of a new country), we see many bits and pieces of the others as they face their own struggles. It makes a very poignant tale.
While I arrive in Australia a decade later than the setting in this book, the very real push & pull between cultures, past & present, adults & children still do exist. Even today, I struggle on what I should adopt or preserve and instil in my own children! This novel explored all these and more. We were shown thoughts and feelings from different characters, both children and adult. I loved this part of the story as this is an ongoing struggle, every day, and I’m so happy to be able to share something like this with my children who are so lucky to have been born and living in Australia.
In between chapters, we are given snippets of stories Biju tells Peijing. These stories are mythology based orally told which she first heard from the older generation. These stories are weaved in throughout the main plot of the novel and also in a way, are reflected in life lessons. As usual, these stories usually have moral lessons but as you hear them from a 5 year old, their take (as you know) can be quite refreshing and sometimes, enlightening. I can’t help but snort laugh at some of their perspectives of these stories/morals.
All Four Quarters of the Moon is a story about a young girl. Of 2 sisters. Of everlasting friendships. Of cultures and growing up. Of the fragility and preciousness of life. But at the very centre of it, a heartwarming story of family.
My heartfelt thanks to the author for sending me an uncorrected proof of this book. All thoughts are honest & mine
About the author