Title: When the Moon was Ours
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Fantasy, Magic Realism, GLBT
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
Date Published: October 4th, 2016
Page Count: 288
Source: Author Website
“To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.”
I don’t even know where to start with When the Moon was Ours. It is whimsical, fantical, magical, a diamond in the rough. I am honestly shocked that I didn’t find this book sooner. I am a lover of author’s that make their writing beautiful and poetic. Author’s can immerse you into a world of whimsy and fantasy with just a flick of their pen. That is what a great novel should be. A visual for the mind without ever having to look at a screen. Your imagination is the best tool you could ever possess.
Let me be the first to say that the summary of this book does not do it any justice. I am not saying the summary is bad by any means, it’s just the contents of this book is vastly different from what the summary lets on. This book takes us on a journey of self-discovery, hidden secrets, not one but two transgendered characters, and coming to terms with who you truly are on the inside.
This is my first book that I have read that had transgendered characters in it. It is also my first book where the main characters were from different cultures. Most of the other books that I have read had other ethnic characters, but these characters were only side characters. Miel was from a Hispanic background and Samir was an Italian-Pakistani. McLemore blended these cultures perfectly and dove the reader into a world of magic realism right off the bat. Intermingling old Spanish legends, lunar references, family dynamics, and tackling teen social issues makes this a non-contemporary novel for the ages.
The core of this book is the bond of friendship and love. That gender knows no bounds and shouldn’t be labeled as “male” or “female.” That secrets come at a price…but at what cost? The story is mainly driven by Miel and Samir, but the Bonner Sisters and Aracely, (Miel’s guardian), are vivid supporting characters. Since this book is magic realism it may be hard to decipher what is real and what is metaphorical. The ethereal writing takes some getting used to, but in the end it pays off for the type of story McLemore wants to tell. The reader gets whisked away into the world that is Miel’s and Samir’s.
In the beginning Miel is fearful, closed-off, and sometimes hard to understand, but in the end she turns into a girl of self-empowerment and understanding. Samir, a transgendered boy, who struggles with the weight of racism, sexism, and trying to find his true inner-self, becomes a boy of strength, determination and acceptance. The Bonner Sisters, Chloe, Ivy, Lian, and Peyton always get what they want, but slowly lose their magical hold over their town when Chloe goes away. All of them are mysterious and clench their own weighted secrets, until they finally come to welcome them in with accepting arms. Aracely, the woman who can cure anyone of love-sickness, takes Miel in when she spills out of the town’s water tower and cares for Miel like her own blood. The reader finds out later on that Aracely is much more than just a simple guardian to Miel.
I loved loved love this book from beginning to end. It took me a little longer to finish, because life gets in the way of things of course, but it’s only 270 pages. It is so amazingly well done! Unique and fresh in the concept of story-line. The writing is lush and vivid. I haven’t read anything this poetic in a long time. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a story about characters coming to terms with their past, who they are on the inside, and what they can become with self-empowerment. You can only hold on to secrets for so long before they come to swallow you whole.
I’ll leave you guys with the words from Anna-Marie McLemore’s opening page:
“To the boys who get called girls,
the girls who get called boys,
and those who live outside these words.
To those called names,
and those searching for names of their own.
To those who live on the edges,
and in the spaces in between.
I wish for you every light in the sky.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, raised in the same town as the world’s largest wisteria vine, and taught by her family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. Her debut novel The Weight of Feather was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults book, and a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award. Her second novel, When the Moon was Ours, will be released on October 4, 2016, and Wild Beauty is forthcoming in 2017.
Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AnnaMarieMcLemore, Twitter @LaAnnaMarie or GoodReads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6434877.Anna_Marie_McLemore.
If you would like to purchase When the Moon was Ours then click here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore/1123132915?ean=9781250058669