The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman, by Robin Gregory, is an incredibly heartfelt and comical tale of loss, perseverance, and family. This wonderful little novel (310 pages) is full of magical realism and witty dialogue, both of which draw readers into the strange, yet fun life of Moojie Littleman as he comes of age on his grandfather’s farm, St. Isidore’s Fainting Goat Dairy.
The book is separated into three parts, each of which follows Moojie through his whimsical hero’s journey to find a sense of belonging and family after his mother’s untimely death. The first part of the book introduces our orphaned and physically disabled protagonist, Moojie Littleman, as a young boy growing up in the early 1900’s. After his mother’s death, Moojie is sent to his grandfather’s farm, where he longs to feel like he is a part of a family, to know that he is loved, but is disappointed at every turn. And it isn’t until Moojie encounters a mysterious group of people called “The Hostiles” just outside his grandfather’s farm that he begins to understand the value of determination and selflessness.
In the second part of the novel, Moojie works to gain the trust of his new friends, The Hostiles (who are really just a group of native peoples living off the land and the occasional thievery), and he falls in love with a wild and wonderfully brave young woman, Babylonia. Finally, in book three, Moojie is forced to choose between finally becoming one of The Hostiles and saving his remaining family from certain death.
In terms of writing quality and plot depth, Gregory does a wonderful job creating strange, yet heartfelt, dialogue. In fact, this wonderful grasp on imparting subtle messages of hope and meaning into the novel via dialogue is one of the strongest aspects of the book. While reading, it seems that every conversation brings on new insights as to what it means to be a part of a family and to overcome persecution. The author skillfully uses the physical ailments of Moojie to represent the mental roadblocks that he has constructed around himself over time, such as self-doubt, pity, or inability to fit in. Yet as Moojie grows older, he casts off both his physical and mental infirmities, replacing them with new strengths.
Overall, this book is an excellent read for young readers because of the subtle, but ever present, undertones of mindfulness and determination in the narrative. In her work, Robin Gregory successfully convinces the audience to laugh and sympathize with her flawed main character, Moojie, as he bumbles through life on the goat farm. And despite that the dialogue may seem disjointed when you first pick up the book, the narrative style quickly begins to feel more natural as readers the story develops.
In summary, The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman is a quirky, attention-grabbing novelthat is definitely worth the read. The story line is chalk-full of Moojie’s misadventures and struggles. I unreservedly rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars, and am quite happy to say that it’s one of the most fun stories that I’ve read in quite some time. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading magical realism and/or YA novels from the perspective of a lovable underdog like Moojie Littleman.
Visit the Roin Gregory’s website, Mad Mystical Journey for more about the author and the world of Moojie.