Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WE LIGHT UP THE SKY by Lilliam Rivera Kirkus Star


by Lilliam Rivera

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-5476-0376-3
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Three teenagers in Los Angeles find themselves on the brink of an alien invasion.

At Fairfax High, Pedro, Luna, and Rafa are not friends. Pedro is a loud, flashy dresser and a social media influencer whose sharp tongue conceals the pain he experiences from his harshly critical uncle. Luna rides high on the social ladder, but beneath her popularity she is saddled with penetrating grief from the death of her beloved cousin, Tasha, to Covid-19 two years prior. Rafa is a quiet outsider, fiercely focused on protecting his family—especially his little sister, Mónica—and currently living in a tent under the highway. This unlikely trio comes together to solve the puzzling appearance of a strange teenage girl who looks exactly like Tasha. Rivera offers an eerie, immersive page-turner that immediately grips readers in large part because of her skilled characterization that adds emotional richness to an engaging extraterrestrial mystery. The bond that develops between Pedro, Luna, and Rafa reflects the ways that humanity can come to the fore even when faced with the most terrifying of dangers. The inclusion of the coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and the distrust of communities of color toward the police paints just the right social context for the lives of these near-contemporary Southern California teens. Characters are cued as Latinx.

An engrossing and exceptionally relevant pre-apocalyptic tale that begs for a sequel.

(Science fiction. 13-18)