The Moonlit Vine

By Publishers Weekly

After getting suspended for fighting in school, Puerto Rican 14-year-old Ty Perez’s older brother Alex is sent to live with their father. Now, Ty alone must help care for her younger brother and her grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, while her mother works long hours. Worse, a gang has been stirring up trouble in the family’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. When Abuela reveals that Ty is a descendant of an Indigenous Taíno leader, Ty assumes Abuela is hallucinating. But Abuela persists, entrusting her with two family heirlooms—an amulet and a zemi—and claiming that they will provide Ty with the power she needs to overcome obstacles. Meanwhile, Ty struggles to navigate racism and classism from prejudiced schoolteachers, as well as police brutality and escalating gang violence. As she begins to uncover more about her heritage, she resolves to use her ancestors’ strength to help better her community. Mayle’s elegant b&w art appears throughout and historical interstitials center Ty’s forebears as they endured harrowing events such as genocide and colonization. Via evocative third-person prose, Santiago proudly showcases Taíno culture in this empowering debut that is at once educational, realistic, and speculative.