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list price: $12.95
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category: Children's Fiction
published: Mar 2018
publisher: Pajama Press Inc.

Moon at Nine

by Deborah Ellis

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

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
  • , Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award
  • Commended, Amelia Bloomer Project List selection
  • Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Centre Choice selection
  • , Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award
  • Short-listed, Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award
  • Short-listed, SYRCA Snow Willow Award
  • , BC Teen Readers’ Choice Stellar Award
  • Commended, Quill & Quire Book of the Year selection
  • Commended, Ontario Library Association Best Bets selection
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
Editorial Reviews

[A] deftly crafted work of fiction...An extraordinary and original novel

— Midwest Book Review

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

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

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

This is a thought-provoking story inviting readers to ponder the interplay of cultural, moral, and sexual issues in different countries around the globe.

— International Reading Association

[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

True to form, Deborah Ellis has crafted a stark, riveting and uncompromising account of life in a country and era that is markedly different from our own...Its heartbreaking and unflinching honestly will both engage readers and create heightened awareness.

— Canadian Children's Book News

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

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

— Booklist

Sparse and eloquently-written, this short historical novel is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

— School Library Journal

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

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

— CM Magazine



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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