In How Moon Fuente Fell in Love with the Universe, Moon Fuentez is a seventeen year old Mexican-American photographer who embarks on a cross-country road trip over the summer with a bunch of Fotogram influencers, including her twin sister Star. While she is accustomed to living in her sister’s shadow and under her mother’s harsh rules, she spends the summer learning to love herself, and in the process, experiences falling in love for the first time.
While our main character is on her summer adventure, she recounts events from the past that have impacted her. She has a very strained relationship with her mother, a skewed view of religion and sex, and is hiding pain that is much too tender for her to reflect on. While she does have a positive relationship with her Tia Esperanza, she lives far away. A book that can balance heavy topics with lightness, grace, and humor is a book to appreciate. Vasquez-Gilliland balances the hard-hitting and the delicate so well, sometimes even within the same sentence.
The novel depicts much-needed diverse representation, including body positivity and sex positivity. Although Moon is forced to contend with all kinds of shaming from her own family, she refuses to let herself feel shame for her choices, and I think that is important. As an own voices reader of this book, I can attest to the topics of sex and religion being especially taboo in Mexican American culture, especially for the book’s targeted audience. The way the author handled these topics was refreshing. I’ve said this before, but I have to say that this is another book that would have been amazing to read as a teenager.
Reading this book, while hard at times due to the heavier themes, was a lyrical delight. This is one hundred percent most likely because the author is also a poet, with an MFA in poetry to boot. Her expertise rings true in the writing of this book. (Don’t you just love when poets write prose?) While I have not read her first book, I have seen reviews praising the language there, as well.
If you enjoy:
-stories that smash stereotypes
-young adult books set in the summer after graduation
-the enemies-to-lovers romance trope
-characters coming into and living their truth
-and happy endings,
then this book is definitely one you’d want to pick up sooner rather than later!
CW: emotional abuse, body shaming, religious bigotry, grief, death of a family member.