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.
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of EverythingFeatured
When legal mechanisms did not work, she tried to cross the border again. However, she never arrived and they did not hear from her again, with her death assumed. Sia continues to be harassed and bullied by the sheriff's awful son, but she does have her loving father and her BFF, who is also the target of racism. The book is written in vignettes with memories of Sia's mother and grandmother, as well as stories from the present, as Sia is falling in love and forging forward with her life.
The latter half of the book takes an unexpected turn with UFOs and the mother that Sia thought was dead reappearing from a crashed alien spaceship. The stories she brings and the truths she shared may seem unlikely, but they have clear parallels to current events.
What I loved: This book was absolutely captivating. The storytelling nature of the vignette style writing completely pulls the reader into Sia's life and her legacy of stories from her grandmother and mother. Despite the plot seeming a bit wild in places, Sia and her life seem so authentic, making this a magical realism story that seemlessly intertwines the unexpected with a contemporary fiction read. The book tackles some major topics in a really approachable way, including sexual assault, racism, and the treatment of immigrants and undocumented workers in the US. Although Sia's mother's story may seem fantastical, at its core, it reflects the current treatment of immigrants in a way that brings these events to the front of the reader's mind.
These themes are really important and presented in ways that really help the reader to understand the experiences as well as the present connections and decisions/options (or lack thereof). The writing is really incredible, and this story is beautifully conveyed. This is definitely a worthwhile read.
Final verdict: With important themes, authentic characters, and beautifully told vignettes, SIA MARTINEZ AND THE MOONLIT BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING is a fantastic YA read. Highly recommend for fans of ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE, SOMETHING IN BETWEEN, and THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR.
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!
3. Fast-paced; thriller