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Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything
Cover of Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything
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"In a world where we are so often dividing ourselves into us and them, this book feels like a kind of magic, celebrating all beliefs, ethnicities, and unknowns." —The New York Times Book Review...
"In a world where we are so often dividing ourselves into us and them, this book feels like a kind of magic, celebrating all beliefs, ethnicities, and unknowns." —The New York Times Book Review...
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  • "In a world where we are so often dividing ourselves into us and them, this book feels like a kind of magic, celebrating all beliefs, ethnicities, and unknowns." —The New York Times Book Review

    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.

About the Author-

  • Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist, and painter. She received an 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. Raquel has published two books of poetry. She's the author of Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything and How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 15, 2020
    Sia's mother was deported three years ago by the town sheriff; she disappeared after trying to make her way back across the Sonoran Desert to her family. Grieving Sia is plagued daily by the sheriff's hateful son, but the Mexican American teen is bolstered by her Haitian American, questioning best friend, Rose; her loving park ranger father, who has a Ph.D. in biology; and the spirit of her late grandmother, who continues to communicate with and guide her. She falls for a mysterious, poetry-loving white boy, and, together, they spot a spacecraft bearing Sia's mother. What follows is an electrifying, high-stakes adventure filled with shady government agencies and conspiracy theories come to life. Vasquez Gilliland adeptly balances first love, Mexican American cosmology and Catholicism, X-Files-level intrigue, and undocumented immigration. She doesn't shy away from frank explorations of trauma; interrogation of whiteness; and sex-positive, swoon-inducing makeout sessions that center a young woman's perspective. The poetic prose elevates the story into a magical triumph. Sia is a vulnerable, sympathetic protagonist who, despite a past traumatic sexual experience, the deportation of her mother, and the constant barrage of egregious micro- and macroaggressions, finds hope in her relationships, culture, and connection to her ancestors. Spirituality is woven into everything Sia does and will resonate with many readers. The whip-smart humor lends the novel a breeziness that keeps the narrative lighthearted in between the truly hair-raising moments. Luminous, genre-bending, and out of this world. (Science fiction/contemporary. 14-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 29, 2020
    Every new moon, Artemisia “Sia” Martinez drives into the desert to light candles for her mother, who went missing after being deported three years ago by a racist sheriff. The 17-year-old’s park ranger father, Haitian American best friend, and late abuela’s spirit are lifelines in her small, predominantly white Arizona town. After a new boy arrives at her school, a series of strange events slowly unfolds alongside a sweet, sex-positive romance. Blue lights appear in the night sky, a silver-haired woman shows up in the town diner, and Sia’s very-much-alive mother crash-lands before her in a spaceship. Sia must learn how to protect herself and her loved ones within a hostile system, from the likes of secret government agents and a bigoted gas station attendant. Gilliland, making her YA debut, uses lyrical prose to weave between contemporary themes of grief, sexual assault, and racial trauma; magical realism elements grounded in Mexican American culture; and a sci-fi adventure based on real issues surrounding government control over marginalized, undocumented bodies. Despite its leisurely pace, this is a genre-defyingread that is certain to keep readers engaged. Ages 12–up. Agent: Elizabeth Bewley, Sterling Lord Literistic.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2020

    Gr 9 Up-Sia and her father, a park ranger, live alone in the Arizona desert mourning the disappearance of Sia's mother after she was deported to Mexico, escaped, and attempted to walk across the Sonoran Desert to return home. Years have passed and while most people believe Sia's mother has died, she still makes a monthly trek out to the desert during the new moon to perform a candlelit ritual she hopes will guide her mother home. Sia encounters new student Noah during one of her desert rituals and though she is initially bothered by his intrusion in her sacred space, she soon discovers an undeniable attraction to him, especially when the duo is paired up to work on a school assignment. This new relationship wreaks havoc on Sia's friendship with Rose, who senses that Noah is harboring a secret. When Sia and Noah witness an unidentified flying object crash in the desert, they are shocked to see Sia's mother emerge from the wreckage. Though her homecoming is joyous, it is also cause for concern as Sia's mother is no longer entirely human. Debut author Gilliland uses lush descriptions of setting and desert imagery paired with lively dialogue to craft a story that blends science fiction with Mexican folklore, all within a contemporary young adult novel that explores grief, friendship, immigration, consent, and the powerful bond between mother and daughter. VERDICT The first book in what promises to be a hot new series, this is a highly recommended purchase for most collections.-Samantha Lumetta, P.L. of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    August 1, 2020
    Grades 9-12 In her debut novel, poet Gilliland tells a totally genre-bent story about a mother crash-landing an alien spacecraft in the desert in a desperate attempt to reunite with her daughter. For about the first half of the book, Sia is a meditative analysis of the life of a Latinx teenager whose mother was deported by ICE and then lost to the desert, who has PTSD from sexual assault, and who lives in a town where she deals with racism on the regular. But then she finds her mother in a spacecraft and the story expands even more, with tales of abducted immigrants being used for a government-sponsored alien technology program. It's an unexpected, wild ride, combining sf with Latinx mysticism, and, at first, the mix is a bit jarring. But the memorable story, told in short, episodic chapters, features a diverse cast of well-rounded characters with plenty of depth. Amid the surprising plot twists is a thoughtful exploration of humanity, emphasizing that, though no one is perfect, no one is beyond redemption, either.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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