Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Magical realism
What did you like about the book? Lita and Chicky, former best friends, are consummate outsiders in their small town of Meteor, New Mexico. Chicky has three glamorous former beauty queen contestants for older sisters, although she’s a self-described tomboy who can’t bring herself to announce her pansexual orientation. Meanwhile, tiny Lita is an actual space alien, who arrived on Earth along with the meteor, and faces disintegration if she can’t somehow anchor herself to her new home. The story revolves around a beauty contest and who doesn’t love that as a plot device? There’s also two romances on tap: Chicky’s torn between her attraction to artistic Junior and her discomfort with announcing her sexual orientation and Lita’s recognizing that the friendly interest from Cole (a trans man) may be something more. There’s lots of pageant shenanigans involving glitter, swimsuits, duck tape and Vaseline and an emphasis on learning to own your identity. Almost all of the characters in the large cast are LatinX, with the exception of the sort-of evil pageant favorite Kendra (Cole’s sister).
Anything you didn’t like about it? The story is told in alternating chapters by Lita and Chicky in first person. This is sometimes a challenging format for me and in this case, it didn’t add anything to the story as Chicky and Lita’s voices are remarkably similar, despite their different life circumstances. I found Chicky’s story and her character, with her family’s struggling diner, the more compelling, while Lita, with her unicorn pajamas and cactus birthday parties, far too cutesy to be a real girl (although she is supposed to be an alien). Many reviews mistakenly identify this book as science fiction, but it wouldn’t satisfy readers drawn to that genre, despite the meteor and a lot of stardust.
To whom would you recommend this book? Teens looking for romance with diverse voices, especially something light-hearted, will be the natural audience for this book. There is some drinking and discussion of body parts, making it more appropriate for grades 9 and up.
Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? YA
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: February 24, 2021