I am thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for How Moon Fuentez Fell In Love With The Universe. As soon as I read the synopsis and saw that it was marketed as “The Hating Game meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”, I knew I had to ask to be a part of the tour!! I am happy to say that this book lived up to my expectations and more!
Title: How Moon Fuentez Fell In Love With The Universe
Author: Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Synopsis:The Hating Game meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter in this irresistible romance starring a Mexican American teen who discovers love and profound truths about the universe when she spends her summer on a road trip across the country.
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?
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: August 10, 2021
4 stars: Aphrodite – Goddess of love and beauty. That means that I really liked the book, whether it was the writing style, plot or characters. It means it was an amazing book that I would completely recommend for the beautiful piece of art it is. However the book is not a Persephone because something keeps it from making it one of my favourite book ever.
Athena– Goddess of wisdom, poetry, art, and the strategic side of war. I will feature the goddess whenever there is a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour) because they are a symbol of resilience, strength and wisdom to me. I also want to put forth African folkore, myths and gods and since Athena is the goddess of poetry and art I thought it was fitting.
Iris– Goddess of rainbows. Nothing new here, we all know that rainbows represent the LGBTQ+ community so this Goddess will be featured whenever a queer relationship or character appears.
This book was so unexpected. I think these characters are going to stay with me for a long time. The plot is simple enough: 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.
From that seemingly simple plot, I didn’t expect to find so much poetry, beauty and pain in this book. I shouldn’t be surprised about the lyrical prose since the author released two poetry books before this one but I was still in awe of the writing style. I loved how metaphorical and vivid it was and how everything was connected to the universe.
Moon is the real star of the book (you will understand this pun if you read the book) and reading about her journey of self-love and self-discovery was incredibly painful. She is the ugly duckling of her family, she has a twin sister who is perfect and who everyone constantly compares her to. I also have a twin sister and I am all too familiar with the constant comparison. But this made it so much more painful to read because the conclusions were obvious to everyone: Star won the genetic/life lottery and Moon lost. At least that’s what everyone thinks and what Moon has been taught. I felt very uncomfortable with the descriptions of the two, with Star being described as fair, pretty, thin when Moon was described as unattractive, dark and fat. This reinforced the negative stereotype of European beauty standards and the colourism that stems from it.
At first it’s easy to describe Moon as a drama queen who exaggerates everything that happens to her but as the story goes on the reader has a glimpse of all of the abuse Moon has endured: physical abuse, mental abuse, gaslighting, neglect, etc. The list is endless. She has not had an easy life and yet she still tries and ultimately manages to see the beauty in the universe and in herself. I loved the focus on divination and the practice of tarot and ancient magic. It was so refreshing to read about that and it gave me a better appreciation for nature and the magic in it.
So much of Moon’s character is centered around Christianity, religion and how much damage it did to her. In this case it was extremely dangerous view and the focus on the repression of sex was very present. Moon has always been taught that sex is a bad thing and that women under no circumstances should want to have sex (a character justifies marital rape). As she had sex before marriage, Moon suffers the consequences and punishment of her “behaviour”. She is constantly slut-shamed and humiliated because of it. Being a black queer Christian myself, I know how harmful some beliefs are and how Christianity has hurt so many people me due to colonialism, patriarchy and homophobia. I was so conflicted as I read it because this book only showed the negative effects and I know this is a reality and I don’t want to challenge Moon’s experience but it still hurt so much to read. The twins are collateral damage of that education and this leads Moon to curse a lot using a lot of blasphemous sayings in order to distance herself from the practice of a religion that has harmed her. This made her quest for a different belief, an “ancient magic” even more enjoyable.
When you have a twin, or a sibling it goes either two ways: you’re very close or you don’t get along. Moon and Star alternated between the two which made for some great, entertaining drama and plot. I was saddened by their relationship because the author captured in an honest and good way how love is not enough in a family, that feelings, of the ugly kind can get in the way.
The romance was a slow-burn with a lot of angst and pining and was nothing short of beautiful. Both Moon and Santiago are insecure about their bodies; Moon because of her curves and Santiago because of his disability. They had the tendency to project their fears onto the other which created a lot of tension between the two. It was nice seeing them try to overcome their trauma and trusting each other. I loved the moments they shared together – from their banter, their “cooking show” and everything in between.
Overall this was a story about hope, about finding yourself and the people who genuinely care about you and love you. It was a very emotional book and I had to physically take a break from reading but I really ended up loving it even if the topics in this story were darker than I thought.
TW: mental abuse, child abuse, parental neglect, cruelty, physical abuse, gaslighting, ableism, mentions of rape, slut shaming, body shaming.
Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for providing me an eArc of this wonderful story!
Let it be known that I highlighted about 46 quotes and choosing my favorite ones was a *challenge* but I finally managed to narrow it down to these: enjoy!
About The Author
Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist and painter. She received her 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.
Here’s the link for the tour schedule! Check out the other amazing tour stops if you can! 🥰