I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook for Turtles of the Midnight Moon by María José Fitzgerald and let me tell you, it's one of my new favorite books!

It tells the story of two 12-year-old girls: Abby, a bicultural girl in New Jersey who loves photography and is dealing with loneliness and shyness after her best friend moved away. Her mom is American and whose dad was born in Honduras. I love the bicultural representation. I also really appreciated that Abby was proud of her Honduran culture, even though she had never been there. Her Spanish skills allow her to make friends and communicate when...

...She gets the opportunity to travel to Honduras with her father, who is a doctor who specializes in "the bends," a sickness that affects scuba divers who come up to the surface too quickly. So interesting! Abby and Papi head to Pataya, where she meets our second 12-year-old protagonist: Barana.

Barana has spent her whole life in Pataya, and is passionate about conservation efforts to protect the leatherback sea turtles and their eggs. She even has a moon-shaped scar that magically links her to Luna, a mama turtle who comes to shore to lay her eggs. Barana doesn't know why, but her scar will flare up when Luna is coming to visit or when she needs her. I loved this element, as well as some magic turtle totems the girls find, which also link them to Luna. It is such a perfect example of magical realism, a hallmark of Latino literature.

The story has so many wonderful elements; I could almost write a book about all of the parts I loved:

- Great story line with a very sweet and believable friendship arc between two girls from different cultures

- Excitement as they work to track down poachers to protect Luna's eggs

- Language - Spanish is woven masterfully into the dialogue, with English meanings able to be guessed from context clues and rephrasings. This is not always done well, but this author nails it!

- Culture - I learned so much about the culture of this small town in Honduras, and I loved how it all flowed so naturally. 

- Animals - In addition to incredible encounters with giant leatherbacks, we meet manatees, dolphins, an adorable monkey named Pitufo (Smurf), and macaws. It sounds like a magical place!

- Character development - People in the story or not one-dimensional, and are living complicated situations, making decisions, and at times having regrets. The town shows so much love and acceptance, even when people make some poor decisions.

- Foods - The descriptions of baleadas, plantains, and other typical foods had my mouth watering and remembering my one short trip to Honduras.

- Personal growth: Discovering passions and talents, coming to realizations about friendships, interactions with parents, siblings, and friends

Turtles of the Midnight moon was such a wonderful book! I want to travel to Honduras right now. Thank you to María José Fitzgerald for this wonderful adventure. 

Get your copy here on Amazon!