Title: Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun
Author: Jonny Garza Villa
Publication date: June 8th 2021
Age-range/genre: Young-Adult; LGBT+, Contemporary, Romance
Trigger warnings: homophobia, forced outing, racism, abusive family member (physical and emotional), suicidal ideation, referenced death of a parent (in the past)
Rating: 4/5 stars
Julián Luna has a plan for his life: Graduate. Get into UCLA. And have the chance to move away from Corpus Christi, Texas, and the suffocating expectations of others that have forced Jules into an inauthentic life.
Then in one reckless moment, with one impulsive tweet, his plans for a low-key nine months are thrown—literally—out the closet. The downside: the whole world knows, and Jules has to prepare for rejection. The upside: Jules now has the opportunity to be his real self.
Then Mat, a cute, empathetic Twitter crush from Los Angeles, slides into Jules’s DMs. Jules can tell him anything. Mat makes the world seem conquerable. But when Jules’s fears about coming out come true, the person he needs most is fifteen hundred miles away. Jules has to face them alone.
Jules accidentally propelled himself into the life he’s always dreamed of. And now that he’s in control of it, what he does next is up to him.
FHMFTS was an amazing debut coming-of-age novel that had me feeling a rollercoaster of emotions the entire way through, and I enjoyed all of it.
“Reject all the hate you were raised to believe. It won’t be something that happens overnight, but you’ll get there.“
☆ My favourite things about FHMFTS ☆
★ heartfelt story
★ explores important topics
★ found family in friends!!
The novel focuses on Julian Luna whose plans for a normal senior year go out of the window when he ends up having to come out of the closet. A queer coming-of-age novel at its core, Jonny Garza Villa explores some heavy themes of internal homophobia, family abuse, and mental health issues, all relevant topics that need to be discussed as they are experienced by a lot of people in the lgbt+ community.
Remarkably, Villa is able to depict both deep painful moments in Julian’s life, along with showing the bright times and laughter. He doesn’t pull any punches – you get to see the high highs and low low-points in this novel. There were times I had to stop to sob, or pause to laugh. And honestly? I really felt that – when you’re a teenager you feel things so strongly because its the first time you’re experiencing them – from coming out for the first time, to your first love, to first moving out. You get to see this all in this novel, and I loved reading all of it.
I can love, in spite of the hate that has defined my past.
There were a lot of raw and heart-wrenching moments, sometimes challenging to read though but handled very well – especially when exploring Julian’s relationship with his dad, and how badly he wanted his dad’s acceptance and love despite how he is treated. The depiction of this is raw and honest, really capturing the feeling of being a queer kid growing up in a household that wouldn’t accept you, no matter how much you want it to. It was these moments that had me tearing up, and I really felt for Julian during these scenes and wanted so badly for him to be okay.
Fortunately this book provided many moments of comfort and levity, mostly in the form of Julian’s friends. When his dad is the hurt, Julian’s friends are the balm that heals I adored Julian’s friends and how supportive they were. They always had his back, always looking out for him, and even if there were some bumps on the road they were always there for him and I loved them for that.
Likewise, I loved Xo, Julian’s sister, who was such a force of love and courage, and wonderful big sister to Julian. I adore seeing good sibling relationships in books, and this one in particular was beautiful. It genuinely made me so happy seeing them all, really showing how important it is to have a support network, especially when coming out can be such a challenging experience.
“You remind me every day that this life and being gay isn’t all that terrible.“
I also enjoyed all the Latinx culture that was depicted throughout the novel. Julian and many of his friends are Latinx, speaking in Spanish sometimes with other and discussing customs and food. The descriptions of food especially were something I loved, from Julian’s delicious veggie recipes to the Viet food he tried. It’s so sweet seeing how food connects Julian with others, and how he cooks for his friends/loved ones. It feels like such a poc thing, to give food to the ones you love and constantly make sure they’re eating and healthy, and it was a detail I’m glad was included.
Julian’s romance with Mat was something so sweet. It was a little fast-paced, but for Julian’s first relationship this was something that didn’t surprise me and it still felt earned and genuine regardless of that. We got to see snapshots of their relationship developing, their multiple text messages and facetime calls, and see their trust and love build.
Of course, it doesn’t mean its not without its hurdles, especially as Julian is experiencing a lot of issues in his home life, but it’s wonderful to see Mat along with his friends and sister supporting him throughout it. We didn’t get that much development on Mat, but we did get to know a lot about his family which I appreciated – and, at the end of it, I think this novel was supposed to focus on Julian’s coming out and self-acceptance.
All in all I think this is an amazing queer coming-of-age story, and full of touching moments. Its definitely tough to read at times, as it shines a light on some really difficult topics, but it also shows that things do start to look up and overall is incredibly hopeful.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.