FICTION

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

S. & S./Simon Pulse. Aug. 2020. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534448636.
COPY ISBN
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.

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