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YA Review: How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Title: How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe
Author: Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Year published: 2022
Category: YA fiction
Pages: 448 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (TX, LA)

SummaryWhen her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.

Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?

Review: This book is the winner of the Pura Belpré Award for best work by a Latino author from the American Library Association. I liked this novel the moment I started listening to it (more than I liked her earlier novel, Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything). Moon is fun, tough, and interesting and I like how she was navigating the world and her family. She has been dealt a terrible deal in life with a father who died, a mother who is hateful, and a twin sister who sides with her mother. Due to all of this, her self esteem has hit rock bottom.

The themes of coming of age, body image and beauty, social media, and more all figure in this novel, but really it's about self discovery and self love. What's not to like about that?! And there's some romance along the way, never a bad thing in my mind. The cover captures the book's mood well, which is always a bonus for me.

I also think the definition of family and success are well done in the novel. If our parents don't (or aren't able to) take care of us, there are others who will step up, love us, and show us the way. Moon's transition to (almost) self acceptance is gradual and real and made me love her as a character. The best message is that we cannot rely on others to make us love ourselves, that has to come from within.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • YMA--Pura Belpré Award

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