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Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls
Historical fiction

Hang the Moon

by Jeannette Walls

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Quick take

This moving Prohibition-era family saga and its feisty heroine have all the grit and complexity of good moonshine.

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  • Illustrated icon, Icon_WellKnownAuthor

    Famous author

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Rural_update


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Literary



Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she is just eight years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father’s daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out.

Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. That’s a lot more complicated than Sallie expected, and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of suicide.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Hang the Moon.
Hang the Moon


The fastest girl in the world. That’s what I’m going to be.

I decided this morning. It was the best kind of morning, sunny but not too hot, white clouds that looked like dumplings way up in the bright blue sky, birds chirping away at each other, and little yellow butterflies dancing around. I’d buttoned up my sailor suit and was buckling my shoes when the door opened. It was my daddy. The Duke. That’s what everyone calls him.

“I got a surprise for you, Whippersnapper,” he said. “A present.”

“A present? But it’s not my birthday.”

“I don’t need some special occasion to give my own daughter a present. If I say today is a present-giving day, it is. And mark my words, girl, this present is going to change your life.”

“What is it?”

“Why you little sneak. Are you trying to trick me into telling you?” The Duke was using his pretend-to-be-angry voice and that made me laugh. “Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.” He smiled. “Up in the carriage house. Come with me.”

If I live to be a hundred years old, I’ll never forget today. The Duke took my hand in his and the two of us walked down the hall, past the parlor where my stepmama, Jane, was playing scales on the piano with my half brother, Eddie. He loves that piano and didn’t even look my way. In the kitchen I told our cook, Old Ida, where we were going and she said she loves surprises and tugged one of my braids and then we went into the backyard.

When something good’s about to happen, that makes me feel like skipping—I don’t understand why so many people walk when they could skip instead—but this morning, I couldn’t bear to let go of the Duke’s hand, so I behaved myself for once in my life—like Jane is all the time telling me to.

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Why I love it

Get ready for Sallie Kincaid, a young woman so bold and brave, so agile and quick, she can outrun her own family secrets and circle back around years later to divulge them and set things right. She is the center of Hang the Moon, a Prohibition-Era saga set in the lush mountains of Virginia, and the latest masterwork from great American storyteller Jeannette Walls.

Sallie wants the things we all want: to love and be loved. She also insists on a life of purpose, to claim her life as surely as her father—Duke Kincaid, a local legend—who built the formidable family moonshine business. As a woman who fought for her place in the dangerous family enterprise of moonshine, many obstacles are placed in Sallie’s path, but she is determined to redeem her family name, shake it loose from scandals, and embrace her legacy on her own terms.

The wonder of this grand novel is Jeannette Walls’ singular and authentic style. She captures worlds that are often lost and the souls that are lost within them—fractured families, handsome beaus, wild hucksters, and more, all of them real and unforgettable. She writes women that lead us on the path to redemption and change us all for the better. Jeannette writes with beauty, truth and humor about the things that matter. By the time you read the last, glorious page of Hang the Moon, it will have become an American classic.

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Member ratings (9,233)

  • Wanda B.

    Greenville, NC

    5 ⭐️ read for sure!! Sallie Kincaid is the main character you’ve been waiting on. Smart, tough, resilient. Fabulous story of Prohibition and mountain people. A story that will stand the test of time.

  • Rachel A.

    Jamestown, NY

    Sallie Kincaid is one of my most favorite characters. I’m in awe of her intelligence, her grit, her love for others. This is a beautifully sad story, that is one of the best books I’ve read in awhile.

  • Addie D.

    Waterbury, CT

    Little slow to start but then I got wrapped up in Sallie’s indomitable spirit. She was gritty & hung on when times got tough. I hadn’t read much on prohibition in the south & this did not disappoint.

  • Shelby S.

    Onaway, MI

    I put this book down many times and my busy schedule didn’t allow me to pick it up for weeks but the beauty was, I knew right where I left off and easy to start up again. I really enjoyed this read!

  • Pattie R.

    Valdosta, GA

    I really liked this one. I have seen mixed reviews on Goodreads for this novel, but don’t let that stop your reading this story that is a combination of The Tudors and an incredible amount of research

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