As a teen I might have been a bit more into Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland. The twist to the plot point was a bit of a slap, even though the description tells you what it will be. By going with a real “not dead” aspect, considering the spiritual aspects of the rest of the book was awkward.
The pacing of the story is a slowly building up that at first was a great way to keep me reading. The seriously short chapters allowed for a feeling of accomplishment (I read 10 chapters in a few minutes!). But then the slow became dragging. Nothing was happening then BOOM everything explodes. Spaceships, aliens, the government doing experiments, folklore, and love splatters all over; leaving a messy, rushed ending.
The clichés kept coming and nothing felt truly answered. The reality mixed with the spiritual worked for me. I could have continued with Artemisia’s (Sia) “meddling abuela” speaking from the grave until the end of the book (as you can take it literally or figuratively). But when the science fiction, blood experiments and possible robots and/or clones got tossed into the mix, it was muddled. There is a lot to enjoy, the message of how Mexican Americans and immigrants are treated is too relevant, but in the end, there was something missing for me.
The story is our main character Sia, who has lost her mother due to first being deported back to Mexico, then by her trying to sneak back into the country through the desert. Of course, everyone (but Sia’s grandmother) assumes she is dead. That would have been enough of a story, I think. Yet, they added the racist cop (he is the one who turned the mother into ICE). His son is also a racist and does what he can to make Sia’s life difficult (but of course, there is somewhat more than meets the eye here). And then there is the love interest (who surprise has a big secret). And then there is the best friend who could have her own book in my opinion. But this extra was almost too much.
With all that said, I did enjoy the experience of reading this book. I felt there were a few “bumps” for me but (strong reader/able to handle content due to some language and sexual situations) 12 and up can enjoy this almost lyrical book.