By Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Speculative/Magical Realism
QUILTBAG Main Character: Yes
QUILTBAG Minor Character: Yes
Main Character of Color: Yes
Bechdel Test: Yes
Summary: The town of Meteor/Meteorite New Mexico is gearing up for the fiftieth annual Miss Meteor pageant, and everyone in town expects the same people who have been winning for generations to win again. But when former best friends Lita and Chicky decide to get Lita the crown, they soon find the town seemingly plotting against them. Chicky needs the prize money to save her family’s restaurant. Lita wants the crown as one last bit of earth to take with her before going back to the stars, literally. Can two Latinx young women, an artistic boy in love with his best friend, and a trans boy looking to shake things up, win with everything and everyone working against them?
Let’s Get A Little Deep:
We are all made of star stuff. I remember hearing that for the first time when the professor lecturing that day gave a passionate lecture on the makeup of the universe. This connection, the knowing we all come from the same cosmic source, is awe-inspiring to say the very least. It is easy to think of others complexly when you see that we are all made of the same basic elements. Or at least, it should be. The truth, as we all know, is that people form very rigid ideas of others based, usually, off of what they see on the surface. But none of us are only what we seem on the outside. Of course, loving others complexly is really only possible once we are able to truly love ourselves.
Miss Meteor is a story both about understanding others complexly and about loving yourself as a complex human. The two lead characters are not exactly well-loved in their small New Mexico town. Both Latinx and both socially ostracized for different reasons, they once were close friends. When that stopped, each of them blamed themselves, their otherness, for the collapse of the friendship. Chicky’s internalized homophobia combines with feeling like an outcast in a family of traditionally femme women who excelle in everything they do. For her part, Lita is literally not from this world and believes her time on this earth limited before the stars take her back. This means that she self-isolates, refusing to get close to others in order to prevent them from hurting.
Chicky’s self-hate stems from an early social rejection from others when she is bullied for her queerness. She adjusts her behavior to become someone feared, someone too tough to care about what others think about her. In the process, she pushes people away, keeping them from knowing her. Even as her family struggles to keep their restaurant afloat, she refuses to reach out to others for help. not because she doesn’t need it, but because of her own lack of empathy and compassion for herself. It is only when she learns how to better love and care for herself that she is not only able to accept help and love from others but give it freely in return.
Meanwhile, Lita’s own struggles of self-love are entirely about her existence as someone who comes from elsewhere and is constantly sure that she will be ripped from the home she loves. While Lita is also isolated from the rest of society, hers is not a self-imposed one. She loves the plants that fill her home, and she loves the food and music and world around her. But she also doesn’t seek to end her isolation because she doesn’t want to hurt everyone when she is inevitably taken away from them. This fear of hurting those around her makes it harder for Lita to truly see herself as someone worthy of compassion and caring, as someone worth knowing and loving.
Over the course of the novel, these two fall in love with themselves which then allows them to not only love their (slight spoiler alert) boyfriends but their family and friends better. This need for each of us to see ourselves as worthy of love, as worthy of taking up space in this world, is the heart of Miss Meteor. This is a book that challenges you to love yourself even harder against a world that might not love you back. Do not go gentle into that good night, do not give up on yourself even if everyone around you seems to have given up on you long ago. Radical self-love of yourself leads to radical love and change in your community.
Miss Meteor has this and a lot more to say. Conversations about who does and doesn’t belong in a town, the push and pull between those with money and those without, what makes someone worthy of being a “beauty queen,” being queer in a small town — these are just some of the themes this book tackles. I don’t have time to go into all of these themes but their exploration makes the book all the more beautiful.
Miss Meteor is out now so be sure to contact your local indie bookstore to get yourself a copy!
Before you go! This post marks one full year of reviews! Thank you for joining me every other Thursday, it continues to be a great pleasure. Take a look at this twitter poll if you’d like to give me any input on these reviews: https://twitter.com/gwasserst/status/1344494926101241856?s=20
Thanks for going a little deep with me! I post reviews every other Thursday. Did you love Miss Meteor? Leave a comment telling me if you believe in aliens. You can also find me on Twitter @gwasserst! Special thanks to Yasi (@yasaminnb) for editing my posts.