Pride Reads: Travel “Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun” to Embrace Yourself
Jonny Garza Villa’s remarkable debut Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun tells the story of a gay Latinx (Mexican) teen who learns to embrace himself and his future. The novel is available now from Skyscape.
I’ve received a free ARC of Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
After getting drunk at a party with his friends, Julián (Jules) accidentally comes out on Twitter, leading to worries about his dad finding out. It’s not just his Twitter followers — his peers at his high school know, including his soccer team. Besides his supportive friends, sister, and abuelo, the only other silver lining is the person he admired on Twitter: Mat, a gay Vietnamese teen from California. Soon after Julián’s secret gets out, Mat DMs him. Julián and Mat form a personal connection and eventually become boyfriends. But being in a long-distance relationship is as challenging as the other issues Julián faces like his dad and fully accepting himself. Going with his dream to attend college in Los Angeles will give him the chance to live with Mat, but is it worth it when the future is already uncertain?
Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun contains an impressive balance of joyful and emotional moments. His friends, the references to Mexican food (vegan too!), and Mat’s cultural identity are wonderfully described and well nuanced. The story acknowledges Julián’s cultural identity, intra-community issues among Latinx (i.e., antiblackness), and machismo.
Julián struggles with being his authentic self rather than the man his father wants him to be. When his dad catches him offering half a burger to a male friend and then having his nails painted for homecoming, Julián faces his rage. The father’s failure to accept his son contributes to Julián’s self-doubt. His father’s queerphobia does cross into abuse, but the author handles it with grace. The relationship between Julián and his dad (his mom passed away) shows how machismo can damage healthy perceptions of masculinity.
An impressive narrative about self-acceptance and braving the future, Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun is available now from Bookshop.org and Skyscape.
You can read an excerpt here.
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.
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