Another Crescent Moon
Another Crescent Moon
The story of Cliff Emerson, a man with cerebral palsy and a big heart but no voice, and his friendship with Ayo, a new caregiver who listens differently—and takes big risks to help him feel more human.
Cliff’s unheard narrative, told from his perspective, traces the history of his care, from his time in the state hospital to his move into the group home where he has lived for twenty years. Though it was designed to help him grow his independence, his group home program often fails him. His staff are lazy and complacent and their superiors aloof and unobservant. It seems like Cliff’s the only one who sees this — until the day that Ayo starts.
Ayo is new not only to Cliff’s home but to America. Where he came from and why he left are mysteries. He doesn’t like to talk about it much. But his optimism, like his smile, is infectious, and Cliff soon learns to trust him. For Cliff, it is a revelation, being understood by someone without having said a word. All that was required was willingness and patience, things staff haven’t given him in a long time. As Cliff begins to see himself through Ayo’s caring gaze, he starts believing that he deserves and is able to live a life as full as anyone’s. The challenge is convincing those in power of this truth.
Reminiscent of Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, this novel is unflinching in its portrayal of disability care and also, more broadly, of life in America. It is touching and darkly comic, at times bordering on the absurd. But at its core, it is the story of a man in search of something meaningful in a time and place opposed to his whole being, and yet who, with Ayo’s help, manages to maintain his sense of dignity and personhood—and, for the first time, to taste real freedom.
Another Crescent Moon
6” x 9” 230 pages
Perfect bound paperback $20.00
excerpt from Another Crescent Moon
“Living in these times is very strange,” Ayo says.
You’re telling me.
“Though you likely could’ve said the same in any other time, as well.”
“No, I don’t think it matters when we live, or where. There have always been forces that can’t help but cause pain. Some of them, like this storm, come from nature. We know why they happen. Science explains them. In themselves, they’re neither good nor bad. The storm doesn’t know what it’s doing, of course. It’s not trying to hurt anyone. It is what it is, nothing more, nothing less.” Ayo shifts his weight down on his haunches. “There are other things, though, that bring just as much pain, but which make much less sense in my mind. Take the way some people treat each other. Take the way Francis treats you.” He looks over at the giant fetus on the couch, who sighs through his childlike smile. “He knew what he was doing the whole time. He meant to hurt you, and had fun doing it. For him, it was no different than a game. The attitudes that make someone behave like he’s behaved . . .” The sadness I saw in Ayo’s face on his first day reemerges like a long-forgotten song. “When I came to this country, I thought I’d left that all behind.”
I raise both hands, asking why.
“I haven’t told you much of where I’m from, have I? It’s so different from this place in many ways, but one of them is not because we don’t have any Wendy’s.”
“As I told BJ, we have several. Sometimes we even go inside them, if we’re feeling especially brave. Still, there are discrepancies between our Wendy’s and yours. The shape and color of the buildings aren’t the same, for one, and where I’m from, their burgers taste a little older, and a little weirder, too. Yet, on the whole, these differences don’t amount to much. No one seems to mind them, anyway.
“But there are other, more significant distinctions,” Ayo says. “We only became a free people very recently compared to you. There are still many things for us to figure out. It was just a few years ago, for instance, that we passed a law like the one here saying people with disabilities have rights to be respected. This took decades to happen, and even now, the law’s not being followed as it’s written. The attitudes toward people who, like you, require help remain stuck far in our reactionary past.” He stares deep into his memory and shudders. “Some still believe sorcery and sin cause disabilities. This entitles them, in their minds, to treat those born a little differently with derision and hostility.”