Navel of the Moon

E-book – $17.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3105-7

Trade Paper – $17.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3104-0
Publication Date
June 2015
Page Count
232 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Navel of the Moon

A Novel
Mary Helen Lagasse

A freelance writer and journalist, Vicenta (“Vicky”) Lumière has moved beyond her upbringing in the diverse Irish Chan­nel neighborhood of New Orleans. But a visit to her childhood friend Lonnie Cavanaugh in the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women brings back a flood of memories of shared dreams and a fateful summer long ago.

In Navel of the Moon, the follow-up to her acclaimed debut The Fifth Sun, Mary Helen Lagasse turns to the 1960s, where a young Vicky learns that the complicated people that we become as adults and the complicated world that adults create are shaped by events in childhood. The adults around her, beginning with her Mexican grandmother, Mimy, the family storyteller—who says she is from the “navel of the moon”—often confound and sometimes trouble Vicky. Yet Vicky’s strength of character is pro­foundly affected by the complexity of life, and in particular that of her troubled childhood friend Lonnie.

About the Author

MARY HELEN LAGASSE’s debut novel, The Fifth Sun (Curbstone, 2004), won the Miguel Mármol Prize, the Premio Aztlán Literary Prize, Independent Publisher Best Multicultural Fiction Award (2005), and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award (2005). Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the New Orleans Times-Picayune and New Orleans Magazine. She lives in her native New Orleans.


“In her new novel, Navel of the Moon, Mary Helen Lagasse has created a wonderfully engaging and complex young woman who tells a compelling story of the promise and pain and shared courage of growing up, not just for herself but for her city of New Orleans.  This splendid work gives further evidence of Lagasse’s permanent place in our literary culture..”

—Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

“In this coming of age love song to New Orleans, a wise child’s intimate voice and sharp eye take the reader back to life in one of the city’s great neighborhoods: the Irish Channel. There the voices and languages are mixtures of many ethnicities living in small apartments, shotgun houses, or housing projects: families on the edge of poverty. A remarkably intelligent girl, Vicenta Maria de los Angeles Lumière—Vicky grows to encounter history, tragedy, personal loss, and the many faces of love.”

—Lee Meitzen Grue, editor of The New Laurel Review

“In Navel of the Moon, Mary Helen Lagasse triumphantly surpasses the amazing promise of her debut, The Fifth Sun. This earthy and moving tale is set in 1960s New Orleans but resides, as all good literature does, deep within the passionate mysteries of the human heart. Vicky, the young protagonist, guides the reader on an extraordinary trip into the world of the diverse people of the Irish Channel, from her Mexican grandmother, Mimy, to her rebellious best friend, Lonnie, to many others created by the skillful hand of Lagasse. In the grand tradition of the finest Southern writing, Navel of the Moon is filled with luminous characters, crisp, lyrical prose, and powerful human drama.”

—Manuel Ramos, author of The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories