Novelist Kia Corthron has designed a character well positioned to confound a priori judgments ... Narration is distributed democratically, and dialect—fine-tuned for each character based on race, class and education—is a great humanizing force, even when the story takes its cruelest turns ... Theo is the lone narrator in Moon and the Mars, but her voice is so rich with the locutions and grammatical tics of her joint heritage that it sounds almost choral ... The novel’s scrupulosity and broad-mindedness are refreshing virtues, but they aren’t always consistent with stirring drama. In order to give voice to all sides of an issue Ms. Corthron has to engage in a truly vast amount of explanation ... Ms. Corthron’s humility and curiosity match her outsize intellect and ambition. Her big, immersive novel almost never sermonizes; it is, however, eager to teach.
Playwright and novelist Corthron combines a propulsive coming-of-age story with a fascinating history of the years before and after the Civil War ... Corthron smoothly weaves in historical developments as divisions flare in the Five Points ... Corthron’s ambition pays off with dividends.
Both multigenerational families feature intriguing, well-imagined characters ... The novel relies heavily on contemporaneous newspaper articles...while these and other recitations of historical fact...are unquestionably informative, characters who speak like Wikipedia entries don't necessarily make for engaging fiction. Theo has the outlines of a truly memorable character, but it feels as if Corthron chose the comprehensiveness of a textbook...over a narrative that would catalyze an absorbing novel. An ambitious, educational novel that tries to do too much.