cover image The Moon Within

The Moon Within

Aida Salazar. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-338-28337-2

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. [em]Agent: Marietta B. Zacker, Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency. (Feb.) [/em]