In the summer of 1949, twelve-year-old Mary Jo is changed forever. Not understanding why, she suddenly has the attention of one of her parents’ friends, Roger Bradfield, who notices things about Mary Jo no one else ever has. In Roger’s gaze, she is special, wonderful, perfect.
But for a twelve-year-old girl, “consent” is a foreign concept, especially when it comes to a much older and powerful man. When Mary Jo becomes pregnant, her parents protect Roger, not to mention their status in the town, and—they hope—Mary Jo’s future. Mary Jo is sent away to live with her grandmother for a time as they spin a story that will blanket all their lives with a lie.
That summer reaches into the decades as Mary Jo moves forward into her own life. Mary Jo gets married, has more children, and obtains the country club membership, nice house, and upper-middle-class trappings promised by her upbringing. But the lie never goes away, affecting not only her but generations to come. At the end, will the truth come out, or will Mary Jo take her trauma to the grave?
"Reminiscent of the writing of Joyce Carol Oates (and arguably as prolific as the writer), Barksdale Inclan masterfully weaves a powerful, poignant story that crawls under our skin. Twelve-year old Mary Jo must live with her dark secret so that the family might save face and so as to keep the tight-knit community from unraveling.
Using a nonlinear narrative, Barksdale has developed tragically real and evocative characters, skillfully built the worlds they live in, while at the same time adroitly creating suspense. Emotionally gripping and unputdownable, What the Moon Did is a sweeping family saga, we’ll not soon forget."
- Ruthie Marlenée, author of Agave Blues, Curse of the Ninth and Isabela's Island
"What the Moon Did is a masterful telling of a family’s hidden tragedy and the unhealed wounds that long ripple throughout their lives. Inclán reveals each character's journey with clear-eyed wisdom and empathy, weaving a powerfully real and intimate drama that haunted me after I finished the last page."