9781927485576_cover Enlarge Cover
4.5 of 5
3 ratings
list price: $19.95
also available: Paperback eBook Paperback
category: Children's Fiction
published: Apr 2014
publisher: Pajama Press Inc.

Moon at Nine

by Deborah Ellis

tagged: middle east, self-esteem & self-reliance, homosexuality


Based on interviews with a young woman forced to flee Iran because of her sexual orientation, Moon at Nine is a tense and riveting novel that shines a light on an issue of social injustice that continues to this day.

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has grown up with secrets: ten years after the overthrow of the Shah, her aristocratic mother is still working against Iran's conservative revolutionary government. But when Farrin befriends Sadira, the intriguing and outgoing new student at her school for gifted girls, her own new secret is even more dangerous. Because the girls discover their relationship is more than just a friendship—and in Iran, being gay is punishable by death.


About the Author

Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis, connue pour sa série de livres à succès Parvana : Une enfance en Afghanistan, a donné plus de un million de dollars en royautés à l'organisme Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan et Street Kids International. Elle est lauréate de plusieurs prix, dont le Prix littéraire du Gouverneur général et le prix Ruth Schwartz. Deborah vit à Simcoe, en Ontario.

DEBORAH ELLIS is an anti-war and women's rights activist who works as a mental health counselor at Margaret Frazer House in Toronto. She has published a novel for children, Looking For X.
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
13 to 18
8 to 12
Reading age:
12 to 18
  • Short-listed, BC Teen Readers’ Choice Stellar Award
  • Short-listed, Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award nominee
  • Short-listed, SYRCA Snow Willow Award
  • Commended, Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice
  • Commended, Bank Street Best Book selection
  • Commended, Amelia Bloomer Project List selection
  • Short-listed, Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
  • Commended, OLA Best Bet selection
  • Commended, Quill & Quire Book of the Year
Editorial Review

Praise for Moon at Nine

2015 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award nominee

2015 Amelia Bloomer Project List selection

2015 Bank Street Best Book selection

2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice

2015 Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award shortlist

2015–2016 BC Teen Readers' Choice Stellar Award nominee

2015 SYRCA Snow Willow Award nominee

2016 MYRCA nominee

2014 Quill & Quire Book of the Year selection

2014 OLA Best Bet selection

2014 Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

STARRED REVIEW "Moon at Nine is a riveting tale of young girls being true to themselves and their love, set against a political and cultural backdrop few readers will have first-hand knowledge of. Ellis once again proves she is a master storyteller. Readers will remember Farrin and Sadira long after the final page has been read".—Quill & Quire Starred Review by Ken Setteringon, author of the Stonewall Honor Book Branded by the Pink Triangle

"Ellis skillfully introduces readers to the social and political backdrop, showing in troubling detail how fear, suspicion, and historical animosities fragment Farrin's world and limit her freedom....Secondary characters provide fascinating windows into other perspectives and call attention to Iran's heterogeneity, creating a multidimensional portrait of corruption and cruelty, resistance and compassion."—The Horn Book Magazine

"Sparse and eloquently-written, this short historical novel is both beautiful and heartbreaking."—School Library Journal

"A firm grounding in Iranian history, along with the insight and empathy Ellis brings to the pain of those whose love is decreed to be immoral and unnatural, make this a smart, heartbreaking [novel.]"—Publishers Weekly

"[I]narguably powerful...A book study guide is included and will help encourage much needed discussion."—Booklist

"[T]he portrait painted of 1980s Iran's political climate—and in particular the situation of gay and lesbian people and political prisoners—is haunting."—Kirkus Reviews

"In this riveting love story based on true events, Deborah Ellis transports readers to Iran in 1988 just nine years after the Islamic Revolution...Readers will find this powerful book both compelling and chilling."—Dragon Lode International Books

"As more and more states strike down anti-gay marriage laws, Moon at Nine is a chilling reminder of the suffering of too many others...its importance is hard to deny."—BookDragon, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

"Deborah Ellis manages to avoid stepping on cultural taboos through rigorous research and editing, and her story hits on universal themes such as family secrets, friendships, relationships and coming-of-age...more than simply an LGTBQ novel or historical fiction...a multi-faceted hybrid that can be enjoyed by both teens and adults...It is powerfully grounded in the setting of Tehran, and depicts the beauty of falling in love and the cruelty and coldness of power in the hands of outside forces."—Ottawa Review of Books

"Basing her book on a true story, Ellis has written a heartbreaking tale of prejudice and injustice...Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine

"[A] deftly crafted work of fiction...An extraordinary and original novel..."—Midwest Book Review

"Moon at Nine is a tense and riveting YA novel."—The International Educator




Living in Canada, watching the news and having the internet, I've seen how females are treated in other countries. Iran is one of those countries, at least some years ago, I would have been afraid to have been a female there. The freedom I have being a woman here is entirely different. This book showed me that, even before the LGBT came into it. That made it a whole other can of worms.
I can't believe how bad people are treated in this book. Hung for the most ridiculous reasons. I just couldn't fathom having to live in that world. But I do, did and will, just not there.
This book is an emotional read. That's what gives it power. You feel everything that Sadira and Farrin go through. Almost too much.
Definitely give this one a read.



In this third person rendition, Deborah Ellis creates characters that aren't all loveable Ann of Green Gable types. Farrin is a defiant perhaps selfish teen with a razor sharp mind who hates her mom. Besides writing stories, she has no goals until she meets Sadira, a kind and smart girl who comes to the aid of all. A friendship flames up and turns into love. Then counter to every warning, the pair plot to be together. Having vexed the detested school prefix, Farrin attracts vengeance and the most severe consequence. Can she save herself? More importantly can she save Sadira? A story that illuminates, astounds and perhaps will grow empathy for other cultures and sexualities.

Top  Grade
Librarian review

Moon at Nine

Moon at Nine is based on real-life events. The book will help students understand homophobia, and the importance of human rights. When two teenage girls from Iran meet and form a deep friendship, they know that they are at danger of being arrested by the religious police and executed for being homosexual. The central themes of this powerful story are staying true to oneself, and finding hope in the face of impossible odds under a repressive regime.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Diversity Collection Selection 2017.

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