A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Words in Spanish, some with context clues and some translated. Many are types of plants and flowers. Some facts about the importance of salt through human history. Information about photographer Cindy Sherman and other prominent female artists. Author's Note urges readers who've thought about suicide to call a hotline and provides the number.
Don't look to other people to give you your worth, or to give your life meaning; you have to find it for yourself. Don't let anyone feel like they're supposed to save you; only you can save yourself. You can choose who you surround yourself with, and make sure that they deserve you. Everything in the universe is connected, from before it came into being until and and on into the future; lineages from the past repeat endlessly, and recreate themselves continuously.
Positive Role Models
Moon models curiosity and empathy. She's a talented artist who looks for inspiration in nature, and she "collects" words. She likes to learn new words and think about how they sound and what they mean. When she meets someone with a physical difference, she educates herself about it, especially about what words are hurtful, so that she won't accidentally hurt the person's feelings. Moon identifies as fat and at first doesn't like her body, but she goes through a process of acceptance and positive feelings about it when she starts to believe people could be attracted to her. Santiago is gruff but very observant, and he and models empathy, integrity, and self-control. He doesn't let his physical difference define him or prevent him from doing anything he wants to do. Moon and her twin sister Star share a close bond but Star has all the power. Their mother is emotionally abusive to and physically assaults Moon, and shows that Star is clearly her favorite. Moon's aunt is a wise, loving, and supportive mother figure for her.
Moon's parents are from Mexico; one is very light skinned and the other very dark. The same goes for Moon and her twin sister; Moon has dark skin, hair, and eyes while Star has blond hair and blue eyes. They don't speak Spanish because her mother refused to teach them or use it in her home. Moon says she is a size 16 and identifies as fat; a big part of her journey is about accepting her body as it is. Santiago's mother was from Colombia. He doesn't have a left hand, and that's not a defining characteristic. There's a blossoming but secret same-sex relationship among the characters, and Moon mentions a female friend who has a girlfriend.
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Violence & Scariness
Moon tells how her mother threw knives at her, cutting her wrist, and stabbed her in the chest leaving a scar. Blood's mentioned. Afterwards her mother threatened to have Moon committed if she ever told anyone, even a doctor. Her mother is also verbally abusive to Moon and later threatens Moon with knives again. Moon's father killed himself six years before the story takes place by driving off a bridge. Star's breast gets fondled by a fan who wants a picture with her. Santiago mentions a past car crash that crushed his hand, and that his sister died from the injuries she received. Mention that conquistadors raped indigenous women. A character explains marital rape.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Moon describes the times she's had sex in the past. She doesn't mention any sensitive body parts and does mention using condoms. Sex that takes place in the story mentions passionate kissing, taking off clothes in bed, using a condom, asking for consent, doing it many times, many ways, and trying different positions. Describing one kiss mentions feeling him hard against her thigh. She sees a same-sex couple kissing and moving hands around. There's a sacrilegious joke about masturbating and a joking mention of a giant orgy. Moon mentions having a penis in her vagina and "morning wood." She has a frank conversation with her sister describing what it's like to have sex without being graphic.
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"S--t," "s--tty," "d--k," "eye-f--king," "motherf--ker," "f--ked," "ass," "slut," "hell," "bitch," "crap," "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations, "poop," "douche canoe," "holy crap," and "bullcrap." The middle-finger gesture and a gesture imitating sexual penetration.
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Products & Purchases
A few food and drink brands. A social media "influencer" has lots of luxury-brand products. Moon uses a Nikon camera. The Energizer Bunny used in a joke. The story takes place on a publicity tour for a made-up social media platform, Fotogram, so several characters obsess over followers, sponsors, luxury products, and making themselves and their lives seem glamorous.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult says she took prescribed antidepressants for several years. Someone mimes smoking marijuana. Someone's described as "the Energizer Bunny on crack." Moon explains that "seeing a man about a dog" is slang for needing whiskey. A minor character smokes a cigar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love With the Universe is a coming-of-age romance by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything) with some possibly triggering themes of violence, frank talk about sex, descriptions of having sex that aren't graphic, and lots of strong language. Most of the violence has to do with main-character Moon's verbally abusive mother and the one time she attacked Moon physically with kitchen knives. Moon's father killed himself by driving his car off a bridge a number of years before the story starts. Another car crash crushed one character's hand and killed his sister, the driver. There's some kissing that mentions tongue and lots of romantic tension. Strong language includes variation of "f--k," "crap," and "s--t," d--k," "bitch," and "ass." Prominent themes also involve depression and negative affects of some religious beliefs. Moon's not comfortable in or happy with her size-16 body but eventually accepts it and starts to feel positive about it. She's also very close with her twin sister, but for a lot of the book they're not getting along well. A minor character smokes once or twice.
Is It Any Good?
This at times funny, dreamy, and moving novel is both a sigh-worthy romance and compelling coming-of-ager neatly woven together with humor and sensitivity. Teens will easily relate to Moon as she falls in love, finds artistic expression, gains greater independence, wonders where she fits in the world, and starts to really believe that she's lovable.
The romance follows a pretty predictable story arch, but lots of witty banter between Moon and Santiago keep it entertaining, and the realistic voices in How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love With the Universe make the characters believable. The writing really excels when Moon is thinking about nature and the universe, and drives her toward a place where she can explore and appreciate her own value. Food plays an important role, too, with mouthwatering descriptions of Santiago's gourmet cooking. Lots of strong language, frank sex talk, abuse, and mental illness make it best for teens and up.
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Our Editors Recommend
Books with Latino Characters
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