PRAISE FOR THE MOON WITHIN
"IMPORTANT" -- NEW YORK TIMES
Listen to the interview on Weekend Edition with Lulu Garcia-Navarro
"Revolutionary and culturally ecstatic" -- Juan Felipe Herrera (US Poet Laureate '17- '18)
KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW ⋆
“A worthy successor to Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret set in present-day Oakland.…Salazar's verse novel is sensitive and fresh, featuring modern interpretations of pre-Columbian coming-of-age traditions that arise organically from the characters. Mar's heritage is Mexican, and Iván is mixed, black and Mexican; Celi and Mar's participation in a Puerto Rican performance group and their mothers' deeply felt Xicana identity allow Salazar to naturally explore cultural nuances not often seen in middle-grade fiction…. An authentically middle school voice and diverse Latinx cast make this book a standout.” - Kirkus Reviews, starred review
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL STARRED REVIEW ⋆
"Salazar’s debut coming-of-age story told in verse explores the themes of first love, first periods, and gender identity. Eleven-year-old Celi Rivera is mortified by the looming fact that her first period is coming. Her mother, however, is eager to throw her a “moon ceremony” upon its arrival to reclaim and honor their ancestral Mexica traditions and to empower her as she enters young womanhood. Meanwhile, Celi’s best friend Magda is also going through a change, asking Celi to use he/his pronouns and call him Marco as he embraces his transition into a xochihuah, “people who danced between/or to other energies/than what they were assigned at birth.” But when Celi’s new crush Iván repeatedly makes fun of Marco for his appearance, Celi makes a few rash decisions. Celi’s and Marco’s parents come through with wisdom, shedding light and acceptance on each tween’s journey. Celi’s mom speaks frankly about sex and health, using poetic imagery to describe “women’s most magical parts” and sexual pleasure. This novel contains rich descriptions of Mexica rituals and provides a unique perspective on gender fluidity and the bonds of unbreakable friendship. VERDICT An excellent addition for upper middle grade and middle school readers, especially for maturing tweens in the midst of puberty." – Jane Miller, Nashville Public Library
Writing in clear, lyrical first-person verse, debut author Salazar gives voice to 11-year-old dance enthusiast, Oakland-based Celi Rivera, as she grapples with her changing body and a first crush, as well as familial and cultural expectations about growing into womanhood. Celi describes her heritage as “Black-Puerto Rican-Mexican-ness,” and she is particularly dreading the start of her period, because her mother insists that she celebrate with a “moon ceremony,” an ancestral Mexica tradition. For Celi, “I’d rather crawl into a cave/ than have a stupid moon ceremony!” Celi confides in and values her gender-fluid best friend, Marco. But when her skateboarding crush, Ivan, is insensitive toward Marco, Celi has to decide where her loyalty lies. Short, vignettelike passages explore Celi’s growing sense of agency over her body and beliefs, and the discovery of her personal rhythm in dance and in life. With sensitivity, Salazar purports that menstruation is a source of feminine strength, inexorably and beautifully connected to the moon cycle. The broader message is one of acceptance, celebration, and resistance: a period is just a period, Salazar suggests, but it’s also so much more. Ages 8–12. Agent: Marietta B. Zacker, Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency. (Feb.)
BOOKPAGE STARRED REVIEW ⋆
Salazar’s use of verse in this story adds a layer of raw emotion and honesty that makes the reading experience all the more poignant. The Moon Within is both unique and universal, relatable to women and girls everywhere and singular in its context within Latinx culture. Salazar handles this story with beauty and grace, giving young girls a picture of what it means to stand in your own power and reclaim your own story.
+ REVIEW BY BOOKLIST
Celi's body is signaling changes, and all signs point to puberty. Her proud mother intends to hold a moon ceremony with family and close friends, an event for women to honor her first menstruation and give her advice, as well as empower her as she moves into this new phase in her life. This story is told in beautiful poems, using imagery and free verse to convey the tale, and it's narrated from the perspective of Celi, who starts off quite against the ceremony. In the time leading up to her first period, she also makes a few poor decisions towards her best friend, who announces their gender fluidity and needs her support more than ever. This is a lovely, relatable story about anyone who is torn between their impulses—fueled by frustration or anger—and the desire to do what's right by family and friends, especially when it's difficult. The words really use up the space on the pages in creative ways, and the author reveals cultural aspects of Latinx (especially Xicana) and Caribbean peoples in rich detail.
BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS
“[This] verse novel, delivered in effortless Spanglish, offers an excellent portrait of the way many people live their mixed heritage now. Pair it with Nikki Grimes’ Planet Middle School for diverse and poetic looks at periods, first crushes, and the ups and downs of relationships with family and friends.”--Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books