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Review: Brighter Than the Moon by David Valdes

Brighter Than the Moon by David Valdes

Brighter Than the Moon
David Valdes
Bloomsbury YA
Published January 10, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Brighter Than the Moon

Shy foster kid Jonas and self-assured vlogger Shani met online, and so far, that’s where their relationship has stayed, sharing memes and baring their souls from behind their screens. Shani is eager to finally meet up, but Jonas isn’t so sure–he’s not confident Shani will like the real him . . . if he’s even sure who that is.

Jonas knows he’s trapped himself in a lie with Shani–and wants to dig himself out. But Shani, who’s been burned before, may not give him a chance: she talks her best friend Ash into playing spy and finding out the truth. When Ash falls for Jonas, too, he keeps that news from Shani, and soon they’re all keeping secrets. Will it matter that their hearts are in the right place? Coming clean will require them to figure out who they really are, which is no easy task when all the pieces of your identity go beyond easy boxes and labels.

Lauded writer David Valdes offers a heartfelt, clever, and thought-provoking story about how we figure out who we want to be–online and IRL–for fans of David Levithan and Adam Silvera.

My Review

It’s kind of rare for a story to be told in three points of view the way this one is. I love that it’s third person, present tense. That made everything feel close and immediate. I felt like the author did a great job balancing all three perspectives in the story, too. They all felt equally intimate even though they were three very different characters.

I read David Valdes’s debut, SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND, last year, and it was bursting with energy so much that I wasn’t sure how he would follow it up. BRIGHTER THAN THE MOON is a whole different story, and I love it just as much. The energy is different, but still really great. I love all three main characters.

The only thing that hit me weirdly was the way the online deception resolved. I’ve read a couple other catphishing type stories lately (NO FILTER AND OTHER LIES by Crystal Maldonado and TAKE A BOW, NOAH MITCHELL by Tobias Madden), so it might be that I’m worn on that trope right now? I don’t know. It seemed like Jonas and Shani both had big trust issues, and Ash seemed like he couldn’t help creating trust issues, so it was hard for me to imagine things working out quite the way they did?

Despite that, I really enjoyed so many things about this book, though. I loved the setting and all of the places mentioned– especially the coffee shop, Curious Liquids. I liked the community around each of the characters, too, especially Shani’s dad, and Ash’s friend from the coffee shop, Tee.

On the whole, I can totally see fans of Adam Silvera loving this book. If you love books about self-discovery and found family, BRIGHTER THAN THE MOON is one you should check out.

Content Notes for Brighter Than the Moon

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Jonas is a brown boy who is unsure of his background. He is in foster care. His foster mom is black. Shani’s mom was black and her dad is white. Ash is trans and his dad is Indian American and his mom is Iranian American. A minor character is also trans and another is a lesbian. Three characters are in a polyamorous relationship.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Characters experience attraction and think about kissing.

Spiritual Content
Shani attends church at Christmas. Characters attend a funeral service at a church. A singer performs “I Sing Because I’m Happy,” a song that deeply moves Shani, Ash, and Jonas.

Violent Content

Drug Content

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