I’ve been emailed a bunch lately with questions asking me about Bean and Between Us And The Moon. Given that I’m not emailed that often (I’m not that cool), I figured it must mean that Between Us And The Moon was finally out there in the world. I found many emails asking me smart, passionate questions about Bean’s lies and about 50 emails asking if Andrew is a real person. All I will say is there was a guy on the beach, he was much older, and there totally was an American flag string bikini. Sadly, there was no relationship. I never forgot him and I never forgot the potential power of the lie I told.
It’s simultaneously horrifying to get these emails because it means people are actually reading the book. Yet, it also means I guess I have to say something about the book that makes coherent sense. I’m really good at not making sense. So, for what it’s worth, this is my long-winded, somewhat personal response to the people who have asked me about Bean, where she came from, and why she tells all those lies.
I knew when MOON went out on submission that it would be polarizing. There is some explicit sex in it, which I knew would make some people uncomfortable given the age gap between the two main characters. This is, in every way, a “coming of age novel.” Bean is 15 turning 16 – she’s not an emotionally mature person. She finally, through the course of the novel, comes to understand herself – and maybe for the first time.
When I was Bean’s age and first digging through my independence, I made a million mistakes. None as severe as what Bean chooses to do (I wish there was a real Andrew!) but I definitely told lies. I was horribly insecure, unsure of who I was, and what my value as a person was in this world. I wanted validation. Bean and her need to have someone, anyone, see her, came from this emotional need when I was 15. In many ways this is the book I wish someone had plopped in my lap.
So why does Bean continue to lie? Why does she tell lie after lie when things with Andrew spiral so far out of control? I guess I would answer it this way: when you don’t trust yourself – when the validation you so desperate think you need is in the palm of your hand, how do you let it go? Many times while revising I wanted to give Bean an out, to get the truth out there and to make her more mature than she actually was. But an important mentor/writer said to me:
“Think about what you just said, Rebecca. You said that you need to make her more mature. What does Bean need?”
That was a really important teacher/student for me. It wasn’t pretty, but it was honest. For me, to “come of age” means to have a cathartic experience; one that changes you forever. Bean, for better or for worse is transformed by the lies she tells Andrew and the subsequent relationship that she experiences. She can’t just magically see that she is acting immaturely. This is her journey. This is how she paves the road to find herself. Building your foundation in the world is an extension of acceptance, one that — if I have done my job — Bean earns by the end of the novel.
Whether or not she ends up with Andrew? You’ll have to read to find out.