Rummanah Aasi
 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?

Review: I was expecting How Moon Fuentes Fell in Love With The Universe to be a light, heart warming YA romance, but it was actually much darker than I anticipated. Though compared with The Hating Game, a popular adult romance, this book is not a romance. While there is a romance, it is not the main focus of the book. I would actually categorize it as realistic fiction with a dash of magical realism.
  Moon has always been in the shadows of her famous sister Star. While Star is described as willowy, light skinned, Moon has a darker complexion and is curvy. Star is Catholic and uses the concept of purity as a her trademark on Photogram, an Instagram-like application. Moon has strayed away from Catholicism, especially after being shamed and shunned when she loses her virginity, but feels drawn to her indigenous roots and knowledge. Star is their mother's pride and joy, but Moon is the forgotten one.
    When Star gets invited to an exclusive influencer retreat by the founder of Photogram, Moon is dragged along to be her sister's personal photographer as well as be in charge of selling merchandise at the retreat.  Her partner at the merchandise table is enigmatic, gorgeous Santiago, Andro’s younger brother. After a disastrous first meeting, Moon and Santiago slowly get to know each other through bickering and banter. She’s a flower lover who’s designing a deck of tarot cards; he’s an incredible gourmet cook. Their initial animosity turns to attraction and affection in a simmering, slow burn romance. 
  I really appreciated how Moon and Santiago are really foils of one another. They both share similar vulnerabilities and are both grieving from trauma in their lives. Moon has to work through her mother's emotional abuse and acknowledge that she uses sex as a coping mechanism to reassure herself of her self worth. Similarly, Santiago wants to cultivate his culinary career but has to constantly battle ableism due to an accident in which he lost his hand. While their romance is sweet, the most important romance in the book is Moon's journey of self-love and self-acceptance which was hard to read at times, but I cheered for her in the end.
  The story's magical elements is not heavy handed and adds a layer to the story. I really liked the emphasis on the natural world and found the discussion of ancient spirituality to be fascinating. 
The author’s prose is lush and lyrical. The book sensitively explores grief, trauma, abuse, mental illness, disability, and sisterhood. These characters are both Latinx: Moon and Star are Mexican American and Santiago and his brother are Colombian American. The characters are messy, but that is what makes them real and relatable. While there are heavy topics touched upon, it ends on a hopeful note. This would be a good choice for younger teens who want to try a Colleen Hoover book but not be ready for it. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, mentions of sex and sexting, mention of suicide, emotional and physical abuse, fatphobia and slut shaming. Recommended for Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
1 Response
  1. I like it when a book has more depth to it than we expect and that in that respect this one sounds good. I might have trouble with the magical realism....

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