SIA MARTINEZ AND THE MOONLIT BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING, by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Simon Pulse, Aug. 11, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
A teenage girl struggles to move forward following her mother’s deportation to Mexico in Raquel Vasquez Gilliand’s Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything.
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. —Synopsis provided by Simon Pulse
It’s hard to wrap your head around Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything. It starts out a story about immigration and racism and then it turns into a story about UFOs and then it’s a mashup of everything. You wouldn’t think it works, but it kinda does.
I say kinda because by the time I finished, I was thinking, “What was that?” And truthfully, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I felt like there wasn’t a definitive focus. And part of that is because the alien thing was a bit much for me. That won’t be a problem for everyone.
Author Raquel Vasquez Gilliand is excellent at setting the tone. Long before the alien elements enter, she drew me in with her emotion and her ability to set a scene. Magical realism is laced throughout Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything. It’s done so well, with such a weight and history, it feels natural. These are the elements that really shine.
Again, I didn’t care so much for the Alien elements (personal preference), but Gilliand’s characters and relationships are so strong that they propel the story forward.
Due to some sexual content, I would suggest this for slightly older, more mature teens, ages 14 or 15 and up.
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