Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

How Moon Fuentes Fell in Love with the Universe Cover Art

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
ISBN: 978-1534448667 

Mexican American Moon Fuentez lives in the shadow of her sister Star’s social media fame and her mother’s disdain, so when she is cajoled into accompanying Star on an influencer tour to take her sister’s pictures and sell merch, Moon is prepared for a disappointing summer. But over the course of the tour, a slow-growing relationship with perpetually grumpy, impossibly attractive Santiago gives Moon the courage to embrace her art and her life, and face her family’s abuse.

In Gilliland’s skillful hands, what could be a breezy romance shimmers with nuanced explorations of faith and spirtuality, sex and purity culture, body image and fatphobia, influencer culture, disability, and purposeful depictions of abuse. The book balances on the edge of bittersweet, with painful moments alongside beautiful realizations, and playful banter between Moon and Santiago softening the intensity of their connection. Primary and secondary characters are layered, complicated individuals responding to their own concerns, priorities, and histories; Moon’s sister Star in particular acts as both a villain and a young woman hurting in her own right. Elements of magical realism enrich the lyrical writing without overpowering this raw, realistic story that perfectly captures the ache and longing of emerging into adulthood. 

Give How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe to readers who love romantic coming-of-age stories with deeper themes of family and self, like Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno, It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Siguera, and Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado. 

— Megan Jackson, she/her

Other Nominated Titles

  • How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi (September 22, 2020)
  • Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (September 7, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.