The Moonlit Vine

By Kirkus Reviews

The 14-year-old descendant of a Taíno leader finds the strength in ancestral roots to help her present-day community.

Taína, who goes by Ty, has a lot on her plate. Her parents have been separated since her father got out of jail. She takes care of her grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, and her little brother, who’s in first grade, while her mother works two jobs. Her mom just kicked her older brother out of the house for getting into a fight at school. Childhood friends, including her crush, have felt pressured to join a violent gang. Her neighborhood is gentrifying, and Ty, whose brown-skinned family is Puerto Rican, encounters racism and prejudice everywhere, from the teacher who shames an English language learner to the welfare officer who made her mother feel terrible for applying for affordable housing. One night, Ty’s grandmother gives her an amulet and a zemi, a sacred carving, created by their ancestor Anacaona, a Taíno leader, warrior, and poet. Abuela tells Ty that knowledge of her birthright is her power. As Ty learns more about her heritage, one crisis after another ensues. Readers will cheer for the bold, resourceful protagonist as she uses her newfound power to bring everyone she cares about together to save loved ones and create positive change in her neighborhood. Mayle’s evocative black-and-white art and interstitial chapters centering Ty’s ancestors through the centuries round out the contemporary storyline.

Deeply moving, beautifully written, and inspiring.