Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything cover
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Simon & Schuster, 2020
432 pages

Age 12 and older

Sia (Artemesia) Martinez’s mother was deported to Mexico three years ago and disappeared while trying to make the desert crossing back to the United States; she’s now presumed dead.  Despite her dad’s love, the support of her best friend, Jamaican American Rose, the reassuring presence of her late abuela’s spirit and comfort of her traditional stories, Sia remains mired in grief, and fury: Her mom was reported to ICE by their town sheriff. When Sia is paired with new student Noah, who is white, for a science project about the moon, their attraction is immediate, but Rose is sure she saw Noah being friendly with the sheriff. Noah denies it, and as Sia’s relationship with him intensifies, Rose seems to pull away. Sia discovers Noah’s lie just before the shocking reappearance of her mom. A prisoner of the U.S. government and subject to experimentation involving alien (extraterrestrial) species, her mom has escaped, but the government, including an extraterrestrial agent, is in pursuit. Sia’s mom has striking new abilities, but both she and Sia are at risk and soon on the run, joined by Sia’s dad, Rose, Noah, and friend and conspiracy theorist Omar. Sci-fi plot elements underscore and amplify themes of immigration and racism in this deeply thoughtful, gorgeously written novel that also explores family and friendship, has multiple satisfying romances, and terrific moments of humor. It’s all grounded by achingly real characters navigating relationships and challenges that are all too real. ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center