Summary and book reviews of Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris

Gateway to the Moon

by Mary Morris

Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris X
Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2018, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 12, 2019, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Emily Isackson

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About this Book

Book Summary

From award-winning novelist Mary Morris comes the remarkable story of a remote New Mexican town coming to grips with a dark history it never imagined.

In 1492, the Jewish and Muslim populations of Spain were expelled, and Columbus set sail for America. Luis de Torres, a Spanish Jew, accompanies Columbus as his interpreter. His journey is only the beginning of a long migration, across many generations. Over the centuries, de Torres' descendants travel from Spain and Portugal to Mexico, finally settling in the hills of New Mexico. Five hundred years later, it is in these same hills that Miguel Torres, a young amateur astronomer, finds himself trying to understand the mystery that surrounds him and the town he grew up in.

Entrada de la Luna is a place that holds a profound secret - one that its residents cannot even imagine. It is also a place that ambitious children, such as Miguel, try to leave. Poor health, broken marriages, and poverty are the norm. Luck is unusual. When Miguel sees a flyer for a babysitting job, he jumps at the opportunity, and begins work for a Jewish family new to the area. Rachel Rothstein is not the sort of parent Miguel expected. A frustrated artist, Rachel moved her family from New York in search of a fresh start, but so far New Mexico has not solved any of the problems she brought with her. Miguel loves the work, yet he is surprised to find many of the Rothstein family's customs similar to ones he's grown up with and never understood.

Interwoven throughout the present-day narrative are the powerful stories of the ancestors of Entrada's residents, highlighting the torture, pursuit, and resistance of the Jewish people. A beautiful novel of shared history, Gateway to the Moon is a moving and memorable portrait of a family and its journey through the centuries.

Chapter One
Perfect Darkness—­1992

Miguel Torres stands in the old cemetery and aims his telescope at the sky. It's a clear, cloudless evening. And there's no moon. So it is easier to see the stars when there's no moon. Miguel stumbles as he adjusts his scope. He has difficulty navigating the uneven terrain of tree roots and crumbling stone. Still he likes the old cemetery. It gives him the best view of the night sky. Near the trailer where he lives with his mother, there is too much light. He comes here for the darkness.

A brisk wind blows through the branches of the old oak tree. It blows through piñon trees, and the air is redolent with the scent of pine. But it is also a dry, dusty wind and Miguel has to keep wiping his lens with a soft cloth. He buttons his thin jacket and peers into the eyepiece. Squinting, he pans the sky. It is late spring and a good night to be out. The days are already hot on the high desert plain, but the nights remain cool.

He ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Were you aware of crypto-Jews before reading Gateway to the Moon? Did the novel inspire you to learn more?
  2. Rachel Rothstein is a complex character. What were your first impressions of her and how did your feelings about her change over the course of the novel?
  3. Discuss the portrayal of Christopher Columbus. How did your perceptions of Columbus change after reading Gateway to the Moon?
  4. Themes of exploration and discovery run throughout the novel. Discuss the contrast between Miguel's desire to explore space and Columbus's desire to discover the New World.
  5. Religious persecution separates Luis de Torres from his family and Inez Cordero from the man she loves. Do you think the cycle of persecution in the name of religion can ever...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Gateway to the Moon connects modern lives to distant ancestors, seamlessly navigating between centuries while addressing universal questions about our need to connect to our past while moving to the future. This novel reaches beyond history; it explores the humanity infused into everyday life, whether in 1492 or 1992.   (Reviewed by Emily Isackson).

Full Review Members Only (609 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Morris's richly detailed story explores the unlikely ways tradition can live on in the face of attempted annihilation.

Library Journal
The tales of the auto-da-fé and other graphic descriptions of torture from the Inquisition are gut-wrenching. However, it is the story of the Torres family and its successful maintenance of ancient traditions and, most importantly, Miguel's coming of age that will have readers cheering.

Kirkus Reviews
Her earnest, episodic work deploys a rich palette of detail and color, its breadth only occasionally marred by thinly relevant subplots and a sense of treading water. At its best, this historical novel achieves affecting, poetic notes, its vignettes illuminating one thread of the Jewish Diaspora.

Booklist
Starred Review. [An] enthralling saga ... The story glides effortlessly between viewpoints and vibrant settings ranging from Lisbon to Tangiers, the Caribbean, and Mexico City. With prose as clear as the star-strewn night sky, Morris' novel explores people's hidden connections.

Author Blurb Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will
This exquisitely written novel suggests both the vastness and the intimacy of time--the ways in which the lives of the past echo in the lives of the living, whether we know it or not. A richly rewarding reading experience!

Author Blurb Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things
If you haven't read Mary Morris yet, start here. Now. Immediately.

Author Blurb Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow
Written in prose like music, with stories connecting like fugues, Morris follows her characters through time, through space, and through horrors and toward love...A writer is not supposed to be at a loss for words, but nothing can describe the extraordinary experience of this novel. A dazzling masterpiece destined to be a classic.

Author Blurb Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Hourglass
Engrossing, richly textured, and spanning centuries with deftness and ease, Gateway to the Moon is Mary Morris's most ambitious and best novel yet. It's thrilling to watch as such a well-established novelist sets forth like an explorer into new territory and makes it all her own.

Author Blurb Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta
Mary Morris, braids a vivid and surprising narrative, bringing together little-known history with little-known landscapes to produce a fascinating story of immigration, faith and family. Brava.

Author Blurb Joan Silber, author of Improvement and Fools
It's a great joy when a novel so rich in history is also a total page-turner. Gateway to the Moon connects and illuminates, as we see the centuries-long trail of those who survived the Spanish Inquisition through disguise and adaptation. A wonderful book, remarkable in its knowledge and a terrific story.

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Beyond the Book

The Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition ultimately affects modern-day characters in Gateway to the Moon. The inquisitorial system (derived from the Latin word inquisitio "to inquire"), is one in which the court actively investigates a case rather than simply being an impartial referee--in short, the court acts as detective, prosecutor and judge. Throughout medieval times, the papacy gave bishops across Europe inquisitorial power to extend the enforcement of Catholicism.

In medieval Spain, the flourishing Jewish population was seen with increasing animosity by its Christian counterparts. When, in the middle of the 14th century, a plague known as The Black Death wiped out nearly half the population of Europe, but notably fewer of the Jewish population, ...

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