Review: Moon at Nine

Author: Deborah Ellis
Date of Publication: April 1st 2014
Pages: 224
Source: NetGalley Review copy-thank you!

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail, or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise, and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be gay in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?

Based on real-life events, multi-award winning author Deborah Ellis’s new book is a tense and riveting story about a world where homosexuality is considered so abhorrent that it is punishable by death.


Moon at Nine felt like a punch to the gut, and it left me heartbroken.

It’s post-revolution Iran, near the end of the war with Iraq. Farrin is our protagonist, and she is a young, rather privileged girl. Her naiveté is astounding. Farrin is sure of herself, and of her judgements of other people. A lot of this can be attributed to her rich upbringing, and I liked that she was so determined to get what she wanted, regardless of the consequences. This sort of determination always impresses me, and despite the problems caused by this character trait, I could believe it. Farrin knows what she wants and goes after it.

Sadira complemented Farrin. Sadira was wise and I perceived her as a calm, beautiful person. Farrin’s point of view completely expressed Sadira’s quiet grace. There’s a lot more to Sadira then one would think, and it’s really near the end of the story that Sadira just kills it. Like seriously, I was cheering for her so hard. She’s an intelligent person and a deep thinker. She’s a little different from Farrin, and the development of their relationship because of these differences was very well done. Sadira pushes Farrin to be a better person, and to look at the world outside of her bubble.

This story is a romance between Farrin and Sadira, two girls in a society where homosexuality is punished by death. I haven’t read very many lesbian romances, but this has to be among the sweeter romances I’ve ever read, period. It starts out very slow but then escalates aggressively. I could accept this sort of escalation because part of the romance’s sweetness was that it was the girls’ choice. The situation was very formative in the relationship, and gosh guys, I wish I could spoil some stuff and quote some extremely powerful pieces of writing.

It’s really the writing that makes me think this could be younger YA or MG. The themes are dark, but the writing is accessible and the power of this sort of writing really becomes apparent a little further into the story. I’m also very fascinated with how Deborah Ellis wrote the story. It was slow, and seemed like very little would happen, but then the plot accelerated and Moon at Nine was certainly not what I was expecting. It’s a lot more powerful, and there’s a certain element of political critique that I was extremely fascinated with.

I recommend Moon at Nine. It’s a story of injustice, and it’s an eye opener. It’s a very diverse story that takes place in a different setting than usual—Iran—and does it successfully. Very frankly, I think more people need to read stories about people in different countries. This is one of those, and it’s a good one.



  1. Oh wow, sounds really good! Also sounds a lot like IF ONLY YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan. Weird but cool. We didn't read that one, but we read Farizan's other book, which was also an LGBT story, and we enjoyed it.

    Haven't read any Deborah Ellis yet either, but she's been brought to our radar before. Glad you enjoyed her work!

    1. I heard about If You Could Be Mine and I think a friend really liked it so I'll eventually give it a try. :)



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