Featured Review: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything (Raquel Vasquez Gilliland)
About This Book:
Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell by way of Laurie Halse Anderson in this astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life.
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.
*Review Contributed By Kim Baccellia Staff Reviewer*
Fast-paced story that has so much. Sia lost her undocumented mother three years previously after ICE deported her. Sia and her BFF Rose are the only 'brown' teens in a mostly white Arizona town. Sia and Rose encounter racism and hatred, especially from the town sheriff and his son. Add to this Sia deals with PTSD after a horrific act committed on her during a date.
What I really loved about this book is it doesn't fit one category at all. There's romance, a mystery, contemporary modern-day issues like ICE and deportation, families; and the power of friendships. Add Mexican surrealism with an abuela that 'speaks' to Sia and helps and warns her when danger appears.
I loved how Gilliland mixes Mexican culture as a backdrop. There's also a big secret behind Sia's mother's disappearance. That's where the Sci-fi element comes in. Possible aliens with deadly intentions against those undocumented citizens who end up being deported come into play. There's also a bubbling romance between Sia and new kid in town Noah, who has his own secrets. Plus, a LBGT romance between her BFF and classmate.
Roswell New Mexico, X-Files meets YA where a Latinx teen finds that maybe some conspiracy theories might be based on a fact that involves her mother. And omg, on that ending. Is this a hint that there might be another book in this world? Please say yes!