Hunger Moon

Front Street
Age 10 and older, 109 pages
ISBN 978-1-60898-171-7 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-60898-028-4 (ebook)


Ruthie Tepper wants to make people laugh—to be a star on her own TV show. She wants to write stories as wonderful as the ones she reads in True Romance.

She also wants her family to stop yelling—about money, about work, and especially about her brother Eddy. No one at school says hi to Eddy. He knows the name of every street in the city of Baltimore but can’t eat his dinner without making a mess of things. Ruthie is a good older sister, even though she can get mean herself. But she tries—she walks Eddy home from school every day and she makes sure to do her chores just the way her mother likes them done; she even gets nominated for class president. Does anyone notice? Is anybody looking at her? Her mother and father are too busy slamming things around. It’s not funny anymore, it’s really not, and Ruthie does the only thing she can think of to protect herself and Eddy.

At times funny, at times piercing, always honest, Hunger Moon is the stuff of real families, real growing up.


Finalist, Julia Ward Howe Prize for Young Readers 2005 awarded by the Boston Authors Club

2005 YA Top Forty, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association


Lamstein’s spare first-person narrative deftly sketches a remarkably complex picture with few extra strokes.
– Kirkus Reviews

Lamstein unfolds this 1950s drama in vignettes that trenchantly expose a family sinking into dysfunction…. Young readers will sympathize with Ruth’s experience of being pushed to the margins by distracted parents and feel empowered by her ability to tug her troubled family toward reconciliation.
– Booklist

Ruthie’s present-tense narration is convincingly constrained yet affecting. Her yearning for something better, for herself and for Eddy, is touching and believable, but the book’s particular originality is to admit Ruthie’s own contribution to the “mean square dance”; the result is an avoidance of a too-simple bad/good dichotomy and an exploration of how frustration and unhappiness can spur on cruelty in anyone. Just about everyone has felt that impulse, family situation or no, so Ruthie’s story should find many understanding readers.
– Recommended, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Although the setting is 1953 Chicago, the angst of growing up is contemporary and universal. Ruthie is a finely-drawn character who readers will remember and care about. A good read and even better discussion starter in a classroom or family.
– Children’s Literature

Ruthie’s story is poignant, and although there is no upbeat ending, there is a sense of hope. Lamstein is skilled at depicting the unhappy family with a few well-chosen words… Hand-sell this one to those interested in family relationships. It is well worth the effort.

In brief scenes, like snapshots from an album, Lamstein depicts a 1954 Chicago family on the verge of breakdown…. A good choice for reluctant readers or for children suffering through difficult family situations.
– School Library Journal

Ruth’s attempts to come to terms with her family as she experiments with both cruelty and compassion are unvarnished and moving.
– Horn Book Guide

Ruthie Tepper will steal your heart.
– ALAN Review

I believed every word of this book. Ruthie sneaks into your heart and holds on tight. I’ll never forget her.
– Ellen Wittlinger

Ruthie gives us an unadulterated, searing window into her life in the 1950’s, and though readers may come away aching for her, in the last moments of Hunger Moon she offers a delicate and complex salve for survival.
– Karen Hesse

I love this story, so simply and brilliantly told — and oh, so real. I love Ruth Tepper and the way she laughs so hard she falls off her chair… and so did I, at moments. She is hungry for recognition, hungry for books, hungry for love, hungry in every possible way. She’s a wonderful character, a spirited, big-hearted girl, who doesn’t always do the right thing, a girl who will linger long in the reader’s mind. Sarah Lamstein has performed magic here.
– Norma Fox Mazer


Click here for a downloadable classroom guide for Hunger Moon. – Created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

The Asperger’s Association of New England website defines Asperger’s Syndrome as a recently diagnosed neurobiological disorder (“…not officially classified as a psychiatric disorder until 1994”) that affects the individual in a number of areas, among them disability in social interactions that can lead to social isolation, poor motor skills, and obsessions with specific and limited topics of interest. The site and the association newsletter offer information about events and support groups for AS individuals.

Where You Can Purchase

namelos – paperback and ebook
Barnes and Noble