I am deeply moved by this lovely, sensitive, reverent middle grade novel! If you have a tweenager in your life, I consider The Moon Within a must-read. All of the feelings of being awkward, self-conscious, and conflicted during puberty are elegantly uncovered as the adolescent characters ask themselves, “How do I see myself?” and “How do I want to be seen and acknowledged by my friends, family, and community?” The heartfelt intentionality of the parents to genuinely see and honor the two main adolescent characters is inspiring– as are the youths as they find the courage to stand in their truth and stand up for one another.
— From Kimberly
Spring 2019 Kids Indie Next List
“An absolute gem! Aida Salazar perfectly captures the anxiety, excitement, and embarrassment that come with middle school. Celi slowly grows into a better understanding of her mother’s hopes for her and what it means to be a good friend. Her moon ceremony — at first a strange and new idea —becomes an opportunity to show her strength and the person she is becoming. Beautiful and powerful.”
— Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC
****Four starred reviews!****
* "A worthy successor to Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret set in present-day Oakland." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Celi Rivera's life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend's exploration of what it means to be genderfluid.
But most of all, her mother's insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It's an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and her community have reclaimed, but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within herself to take a stand for who she wants to be?
A dazzling story told with the sensitivity, humor, and brilliant verse of debut talent Aida Salazar.
About the Author
Aida Salazar is a writer, arts advocate, and home-schooling mother who grew up in South East LA. She received an MFA in Writing from the California Institute of the Arts, and her writings have appeared in publications such as the Huffington Post, Women and Performance: Journal of Feminist Theory, and Huizache Magazine. Her short story, By the Light of the Moon, was adapted into a ballet by the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance and is the first Xicana-themed ballet in history. Aida lives with her family of artists in a teal house in Oakland, CA.
Praise for The Moon Within:
A Spring 2019 Kids Indie Next List selection
* "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.... An authentically middle school voice and diverse Latinx cast make this book a standout." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "An excellent addition for upper middle grade and middle school readers, especially for maturing tweens in the midst of puberty." -- School Library Journal, starred review
* "Writing in clear, lyrical first-person verse.... 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." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "An important coming-of-age tale of a girl learning about her changing body and all of the questions and revelations that come along with it.... 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. " -- Bookpage, starred review
"This story is told in beautiful poems.... A lovely, relatable story....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." -- Booklist
"Salazar's language is frank and rich, using occasional Spanish or Mexica/Nahuatl words.... Realistic and rich in poetic imagery, this middle-grade novel focuses on a multicultural community in which supportive adults help young people figure out their identities." -- Shelf Awareness
"Lyrical.... The characters leap to life and eloquently evoke the passion and pain of a girl's coming-of-age. Absolutely beautiful, reverent, and intensely personal, the book would make a valued gift for pre-teen readers, especially a young Latina." -- School Library Connection
"This is a fascinating tale that blends ancestral traditions from two cultures, while portraying modern dilemmas. Salazar's poetry is as lovely and graceful as the dance scenes." -- Margarita Engle, National Young People's Poet Laureate and Newbery Honor-winning author of The Surrender Tree
"With conga-pulsed lyrics, Aida Salazar pulls us into the coming of age of eleven year Celi. She initiates readers into the conversation of Bomba, the girl-woman circle, divine twin energies and the many moon-tide powers of a Latina pre-teen. This is a book whose form and content, vision and depth, I find revolutionary and culturally ecstatic. In these times, here is the liberation verse our youth and all have been waiting for - Brava-Bravo!" -- Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate and author of Jabberwalking
"Aida Salazar has reached deep into our indigenous past to explore in beautiful, poignant poetry what it means to become a woman at the intersection of community and self. Rooted in ancestral lore yet vibrantly modern, The Moon Within is a touching, powerful, and important novel in verse." -- David Bowles, Pura Belpré Honor-winning author of The Smoking Mirror
"In a vivid, magical debut, Aida Salazar's lyrical poetry deftly pulls you into Celi's vibrant world as she reluctantly dances towards womanhood, adjusting to the drumbeats of first love and true friendship while exploring her ancestral roots as she finds her role within family and community." - Naheed H. Senzai, award-winning author of Shooting Kabul and Escape From Aleppo
"Lovely and amazing...a heartbreaker, in every wonderful way. Salazar's vivid and accessible verse brings us the coming-of-age story we've been longing for. Poignant, funny, and deeply moving, The Moon Within is a story told with an abundance of love and respect-a gift straight from the center of Salazar's heart to readers everywhere." -- Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of Eighth-Grade Superzero and co-author of Naomis Too