“It’s a whole new beginning, you know? It’s that moment before the universe expanded, when all of matter is the size of a trillionth of a period, all hot and full of nothing but potential. I could be someone who isn’t always and completely eclipsed by my sister and kicked down by my mom. Who could I be? The skyline whips by us, the clouds white. Everything feels new right along with me. Who could I be? I could be anything. No, scratch that. I could be everything.” – How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
If you’re ever not sure to read, ask a librarian for a recommendation. That is how I ended up with my latest five-star read: How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland. This young adult novel with a romance twist was beautifully written and full of tiny bits of humor dropped throughout. Moon Fuentez is an adorably lovable, yet incredibly sarcastic Mexican American teen trying to figure out her place in the world and in her family while on a summer road trip across the country with a group of influencers.
As long as she can remember, Moon Fuentez has been the ugly, unwanted sister. Her twin, Star, has reached social media stardom with Moon tagging behind as her sister’s camerawoman and photo editor. When her mom announces that Star and Moon will be spending their summer touring the country as part of a social media tour with dozens of beautiful influencers, Moon is less than thrilled. She will be working as ‘the merch girl’, giving up her entire summer in service to her sister, yet again.
Moon’s fate starts to change as soon as the two arrive to start the tour. Moon accidentally offends Santiago Phillips, her bunkmate and now her nemesis. They work together since he is ‘the merch guy’. Santiago loves to workout, giving him a massive physique and making him the hottest guy Moon has ever seen. Too bad he can’t stand Moon – he is constantly grumpy and combative whenever they have to work together, which is ALL THE TIME. It’s fine though – she hates him as much as he hates her. (You know where this is going, right?) Their forced proximity leads Moon to think about whether or not their mutual dislike is really true or not. This also leads her to think about how she has been living her life and what she really wants her future to look like.
The descriptions are beautifully written, the characters fully developed, and the story is sweet and serious, yet entertaining. The characters also evolve as the story progresses. Their relationships also change, some in positive ways, others negatively. This book is told first-person from Moon’s point of view with glimpses into Moon’s past between chapters. The author doesn’t shy away from talking about hard topics that some young adult books treat with kid gloves. At the core, this is a book about learning to love yourself, knowing your self-worth, and understanding that you are so much more than you (and others) see yourself and give yourself credit for. This is a serious contender for my favorite book of 2023.
Want to talk about How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe with others? Join See YA! See YA is our adult book club with a teen book twist. See why so many teen books are being turned into movies and are taking over the best seller lists. Registration is not required. Books are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Eastern Avenue library. We meet the first Wednesday of the month at Eastern at 6:30pm. Our next four months of books are listed below:
September 6th – How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Gilliland Vasquez
October 4th – Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
November 1st – Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley