The Hating Game meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter in this irresistible romance starring a Mexican American teen who discovers love and profound truths about the universe when she spends her summer on a road trip across the country.
When 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?
About the Author:
Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist and painter. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains.
Content Warning: fatphobia, bigotry mostly influenced by religious views, misogyny, domestic violence/child abuse, unstable mental health, parental death, implied suicide, slut shaming, sexual harassment (minor/mild), sexual content (mild to graphic), racism (these come from Enthralled Bookworm‘s GR review)
My Rating: 3.75/5 stars
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for including me in this blog tour!
I have been trying to think of the right words to start off this review and I am having a hard time putting my overall thoughts for this book because I have SO MANY thoughts about it. Though I was conflicted about it, the last half of the book really sold it to me, but it was a lot to digest at times, especially with Moon’s sometimes flippant attitude and narration. I loved her unique voice, but she has been through so much and I don’t think the book’s synopsis really prepares the readers for that. This book handles a lot of deep topics and the synopsis really glosses over that, which lead me to expect a cutesy roadtrip romance-which How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe is not.
A lot of this book is centered around religious expectations and familial trauma that Moon and her sister, Star, both share. And it was A LOT to put it mildly. I thought it was handled really well, but it is deeply embedded in the story and should definitely be considered going into this book. Their mother has set out this idea of perfect and it negatively impacts both of these girls, and through Moon’s perspective it is really obvious. This is done through blaming and gaslighting Moon into believing that she has reset their family’s curse and is a victim to it because she has had sex.
Moon undergoes so much character development in this book, learning to love herself and accept love from others, despite always being told that she didn’t deserve it because she was fat, scarred, sexually active. I think that breaking free from these expectations and rules that have been engrained into her mind are the biggest message of this story. Self love is most important and Moon is really able to embrace that by the end of the story and it really warmed my heart.
There are some other themes in this book (art, cooking, divination) that are just as big of a part of the story. I really loved how Moon’s art, her photography, grows throughout the story- I honestly wish that I could follow her and buy her art. Or that I could eat one of Santiago’s meals. Gilliland is exceptional at sense evoking writing and I could really visualize everything that was described so vividly. Her writing was such a big part of why once I really got into this book I couldn’t put it down.
I think that this book has the potential to be a new favourite for a lot of readers. It is hard not to fall in love with Moon’s personality and root for her throughout the story (and cry a few times along the way). Not to mention how beautiful it is going to look on everyone’s shelf (the cover art is just absolutely beautiful). I definitely recommend this book, especially for those looking for a read that has a protagonist who is on the cusp of adulthood, that scary in between time that most YA books don’t cover.
How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe releases on August 10th!