How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe
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?
Along the way, Moon is saddled with the surly and very attractive Santiago, the brother to the inventor of Fotogram who has organized the tour. Santiago is also selling the merch and has been assigned as her bunkmate. Along this summer trip, Moon will begin to see herself in a new light, embrace herself as she is, fall in love, and become aware of problematic family relationships.
What I loved: This is an emotional and genuine read about a young woman coming into her own. Moon experiences a lot of character growth throughout the story and gains confidence from within as she separates from her physically and emotionally abusive mother. The things that she has been sweeping under the rug are resurfacing for her personally, and she is working her way through them. The writing flows so beautifully with little stories told like gems throughout, to build up to the picture we see of Moon. They fill in gaps of reader understanding as the book continues, and the way this is written is absolutely captivating, keeping the reader invested and shocked but not surprised by the information revealed along the way. There is a lot of power in her story for readers who may find themselves in similar situations.
The romance was really beautiful. Although they are both flawed and say or do the wrong things, they are both such endearing and compelling people that it's impossible not to cheer for them. I did appreciate that although they support each other, their personal growth comes from within - a much stronger foundation. Santiago is another character who is dealing with his own insecurities and challenges, and his story adds to the emotional power of the read. The touch of magical realism in La Raiz, the family "curse" their mother has warned them about, was another stunning addition to the story.
The themes in this book are really fantastically done. Aside from those around family and abuse, there are also important themes around body positivity, sexuality, religion, influencer culture, and mental illness (particularly depression). I found the messages around performative Christianity to be particularly poignant, as Star and their mother ascribe to a narrow view of the religion and also latch onto the importance of chastity above all else. Additionally, the themes around mental illness and the need to seek and receive help are really important and play out through a few supporting characters. Family is also another really big and thought-provoking theme with examples and discussions around unhealthy relationships, boundaries, and asking for help when needed. I appreciated the juxtaposition of their Tia with their mother, and the way that these relationships develop. This ends up being a really powerful read.
Final verdict: A stunning read about embracing yourself, HOW MOON FUENTEZ FELL IN LOVE WITH THE UNIVERSE is a beautiful YA contemporary that is itself easy to fall in love with. Highly recommend for fans of COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA, and WHAT I LIKE ABOUT ME.