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YA Review: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (CYBILS finalist)

Title: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

Author: Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Year Published: 2020

Category: YA fiction (speculative)
Pages: 432
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (AZ)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”

Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.

Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.

As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.

Review: This book was a finalist for the CYBILS Awards so I read it as a round 2 judge.

First off, check out that cover. I really like it. There is something about the colors, the sky... it just works for me.

I think I need to remember that speculative fiction doesn't mean the whole thing is ghosts and spirits. This book was mostly a realistic fiction book with only bits of "woo woo la la" thrown in at first. However, at the half way point, the aliens show up and I must confess that I lost interest as I am just not an alien-reading person.

But, that said, I think this book will have wide appeal with teens who love speculative fiction. It's well done and includes interesting characters and storylines.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • A to Z--"S"
  • Alphabet Soup--"V"
  • Diversity--Latinx characters and author
  • Literary Escapes--Arizona
  • Popsugar--a book set mostly outdoors

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