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Gateway to the Moon
Cover of Gateway to the Moon
Gateway to the Moon
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
"If you haven't read Mary Morris yet, start here. Now. Immediately."
Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things
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.
"If you haven't read Mary Morris yet, start here. Now. Immediately."
Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things
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.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book 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 focuses on Cassiopeia. He likes to begin with this constellation because her major stars form an M. The Celestial M some call it. Or the Lazy M. Whatever the case, Miguel feels as if it's his signature in the sky. From Cassiopeia he moves up to Ursa Major and then over to the North Star. This orients him. Once he gets his bearings, he locates Jupiter and sharpens his focus on its moons. Named after Zeus's lovers, the largest moons of Jupiter and their orbits were what Galileo used to determine that the Earth is not the center of the universe. But, of course, Galileo went to prison, recanted, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

    Miguel has never been to prison, though he has spent a month in juvenile detention. But juvie was a little more like what he imagined summer camp to be—­bunk beds, sports, three meals a day—­except for the razor wire. It was a year ago when he'd gotten caught with a gang of his pals playing chicken on the highway, and next thing he knew, the cops were rounding them up. His father, who lives down the road, thought it might be good for him to spend some time straightening out, and his mother didn't argue. He'd shared a room with three other boys and they all had lice. The room had a small window, and the only pleasure he'd gotten that entire month was staring at the night sky. Since getting out, it seems as if that's all he wants to do. As his father likes to say, there are worse things to be hooked on.

    Miguel stumbles again, almost toppling over as he makes a fine adjustment to his scope. But then he often stumbles. His feet don't seem to know where the rest of him is going. His mother calls him a long tall drink of water. Over six feet tall, lanky. His muscles haven't caught up with his bones. And those bones have just grown and grown. He is almost odd-­looking. He has green eyes like his father. Some of his friends call him the Praying Mantis because he is so skinny and because he falls for girls usually a few years older who are known to devour boys.

    As he stands with his feet apart in the cemetery, he can see the skies. He is hoping to find a moon. Not a moon that anyone else has ever found but one of his own. A moon that no one else knows is there. What will he name it? Maybe after a character in Star Wars? Han Solo? Luke Skywalker? Princess Leia? He's always surprised at the names given to the moons. Ganymede, Callisto, Locaste. So why not Star Wars? Miguel can never dream of discovering a galaxy or a comet. Or even a new planet somewhere deep in the Milky Way. That's for people who spend their lives with high-­powered scopes fixed to the stars. But it is not out of the question for a boy...
About the Author-
  • MARY MORRIS is the author of numerous works of fiction, including the novels The Jazz Palace, A Mother's Love, and House Arrest, and of nonfiction, including the travel memoir classic Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone. She is a recipient of the Rome Prize in literature and the 2016 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Fiction. Morris lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    November 15, 2017

    Winner of the Rome Prize and, more recently, the Anisfield-Wolf Books Award for The Jazz Palace, Morris relates an intriguing story of cultural connection. In 1492, even as the Jews and the Moors are being forced from Spain, Spanish Jew Luis de Torres sails with Columbus as his interpreter. De Torres's descendants eventually settle in New Mexico, where, in the present-day town Entrada de la Luna, aspiring young astronomer Miguel Torres can't fathom why the customs observed by the recently arrived Rothsteins echo those of his own family.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2018
    A terrible history of suffering and oppression, traced from the Spanish Inquisition to modern-day New Mexico, is exposed through the generations of a single family.Crypto-Jews, or conversos, hid their faith from the Catholic authorities in an attempt to avoid expulsion, torture, or burning at the stake during the Inquisition that began in Spain in 1492 and later spread to Portugal and Mexico. One such converso is Luis de Torres, whose original name was Joseph Son of Levi, who converts to Catholicism while remaining a Jew in secret. Leaving his wife and two sons, Luis, a translator, finds work sailing on the Santa Maria with Columbus, who is searching for gold and a new route to the Orient but discovers the New World instead. It is Luis' lineage that underpins Morris' (The Jazz Palace, 2015, etc.) saga, which develops along parallel narratives: one following Luis' offspring down the subsequent centuries; the other belonging to teenager Miguel Torres in Entrada de la Luna, New Mexico, in 1992. Miguel, the product of a broken home and a brief stint in juvenile detention, lives in an inbred community with bloodlines that stretch back to Spain. But Miguel's focus is less on the past, more on the starry skies above; his fascination with astronomy is so great that he has built his own telescope. Exploring the dangerous events and resonant connections--a dish of spiced lamb; a unique clock--linking Luis to Miguel, Morris evokes terror and hope. 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.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 26, 2018
    Morris (The Jazz Palace) revisits five centuries of history in this spirited story of hidden faith set in 1992 and 1492. Amateur astronomer Miguel Torres has lived in Entrada de la Luna, N. Mex., his entire life, but, with few job prospects, he applies for jobs outside the city. Miguel is hired as a live-in babysitter for a Jewish family in Santa Fe, which will allow him to support and continue to practice his astronomy. While working for the Rothsteins, Miguel is brought face to face with the traditions his Hispanic family has always kept but never questioned. Why are the traditions of this Jewish family, he wonders, so similar to his? Morris intersperses the journey of Miguel’s ancestors as they fled the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century and landed in the New World. Their tale is filled with the horror and betrayal of the Inquisition—including the violence explorers brought to the New World, as told through the journey of Luis de Torres, Miguel’s Jewish ancestor. Chapters alternate between the perspective of Miguel, who gradually learns of his Jewish identity, and his ancestors, who slowly make their way across the Atlantic and the Americas before settling in New Mexico. Morris’s richly detailed story explores the unlikely ways tradition can live on in the face of attempted annihilation.

  • 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."
  • New York Post "A sweeping generational tale that stretches from the Spanish Inquisition to modern-day New Mexico, beginning with Luis de Torres, a Spanish Jew who accompanies Columbus as his interpreter."
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Mary Morris
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