written by Robin Gow,
Published by Harry N. Abrams, 2023
As this story begins, sixth grader Noah is grieving the death of his very best friend Lewis, the only other trans boy in his class, who has been tragically killed in a car accident. Adventurous and curious, Lewis was always bringing a new paranormal story to share with Noah. Together the two friends daydreamed about cryptids. For those of you who need more information, cryptids are animals (such as Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and Mothman) that have been claimed to exist but never proven to exist. Noah and Lewis also privately came- out to each other, sharing personal gender stories and their reasons for choosing their new names – Noah for Noah’s Ark and Lewis for Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
After Lewis’s death, lonely and yearning for someone who can understand him like Lewis once did, Noah starts writing letters to their favorite cryptid, Mothman, wondering if he would understand how Noah feels and also looking for evidence of Mothman’s existence. Noah writes the letters in a notebook and then leaves the notebook at the base of a tree in his woodland backyard before going to bed. The next morning, Noah examines the notebook and looks for evidence that Mothman might have read his letters and replied in some fashion. Over time, Noah believes he sees “glimmers” of Mothman’s existence and becomes determined to make his sixth-grade science fair project about Mothman, despite his teachers and parents’ misgivings that Noah should make a project about something “real” that can be proven and demonstrated.
As Noah thinks of ways to find and prove Mothman’s existence, he also starts to make friends with a group of girls in his grade, Hanna, Molly, and Alice, with whom he’s always been friendly, but never close. They welcome him, and he starts to open up to each of them, especially Hanna, whom Noah has a crush on. At a sleepover at Noah’s house, the friends stay up late and strange paranormal ghostly things happen that suggest to the girls that Mothman might be real. Noah’s parents and teachers are still unconvinced, so Noah decides that he will trek into the woods in the dark of night to find conclusive evidence of Mothman, for the success of his science fair project.
If you are a fan of monsters, ghost stories and things that go bump in the night, you will enjoy this book. It is also tender and beautiful when Noah talks about sometimes feeling like a cryptid: feeling monstrous, fearsome, mysterious, and also magical, powerful, and awesome.
Robin Gow the author of Dear Mothman, calls themself “a poet, an educator, and a witch.” They are an out and proud autistic bisexual genderqueer man passionate about LGBTQIA+ issues. Robin grew up in rural Pennsylvania and currently lives in Allentown Pennsylvania with their two pubs, Eddie and Gertie and their queer family.
Robin writes in the Acknowledgments section of Dear Mothman: When I was growing up, I didn’t have the language to express that I was a trans person, but I did gravitate to and develop a love for monsters. I have to thank my parents and my uncle for embracing so many parts of my young strangeness and love of creatures and the paranormal. This taught me to explore and question what society deems “monstrous” and to show gentleness toward the parts of myself that make me feel like an outsider. This book is also a love poem to my queer friends, so many of whom I’ve bonded with over a shared love of cryptids. And finally, thanks to all the curious storytellers who for centuries have given life to legends and tales of creatures like Mothman. Learn more about Robin Gow at robingow.com.
This book review was submitted by Stand with Trans
advocate Barb Shumer, who is a past board member and
retired public librarian.
23332 Farmington Rd #84
Farmington, MI 48336