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Review: When The Moon Was Ours

Anna-Marie McLemore - When The Moon Was Ours
Published: October 4, 2016 by Thomas Dunne
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Find on: Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads
Rating: 4/5
When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

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.

This chose the perfect month to publish.

Sam and Miel are the town outsiders. In a small town where outsiders are shunned instantly, Miel and Sam find solace with one another. Sam hangs moons in trees and paints them into the skies as well, and roses grow out of Miel's wrist, much to the disgust of her parents and the Bonner sisters. After being further targeted by the Bonner girls, who desire the roses because they're convinced their scent could make anyone fall in love, Miel is unable of how to conquer the situation at hand when her own romance may be in danger.

Anna-Marie is clearly a force to be reckoned with. I'm unable to get over with the beauty of her writing. I'm new to it, actually. I still need to read The Weight of Feathers for myself because it's about birds (bird people??) and similar feels, so that's interestingly exciting. You know, when a kid asks for a casual bedtime story and you fabricate one for the sake of your sanity, like, "Once upon a time, Peter Pan and his lady friend, Tinker Bell, escaped Neverland and stole away Wendy and her brothers because he was selfish adolescent." Anna-Marie would probably be like, "Pumpkins floated through rivers and moons shined glowed and a girl flowed out of a water tower." Oh jeez, write my wedding vows while you're at it.
“With luminous prose infused with Latino folklore and magical realism, this mixes fairytale ingredients with the elegance of a love story, with all of it rooted in a deeply real sense of humanity. Lovely, necessary, and true.”
Booklist, STARRED Review
“Luxurious language infused with Spanish phrases, Latin lunar geography, and Pakistani traditions is so rich it lingers on the tongue, and the presence of magic is effortlessly woven into a web of prose that languidly unfolds to reveal the complexities of gender, culture, family, and self. Readers will be ensnared in this ethereal narrative long before they even realize the net has been cast.”
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review
A love story that is as endearingly old-fashioned as it is modern and as fantastical as it is real.”
School Library Journal, STARRED Review

"McLemore dances deftly across genres, uniquely weaving glistening strands of culture, myth, dream, mystery, love, and gender identity to create a tale that resonated to my core.  It’s that rare kind of book that you want to read slowly, deliciously, savoring every exquisite sentence. I adored this book."
— Laura Resau, Américas Award Winning Author of Red Glass and The Queen of Water

"Lushly written and surprisingly suspenseful, this magical tale is not just a love story, but a story of the secrets we keep and the lies we tell, and the courage it takes to reveal our authentic selves to each other and to the world."
— Laura Ruby, Printz Award Winning-Author of Bone Gap

The crushing of leaves announced the Bonner sisters. They emerged from the yellow leaves, the shades of their like the different colors in a bloom of flame. They wore sweaters as deep and vivid as the panels of stained glass. Dark green and purple. Blue and red.

This is mainly just a story about...romance. I mean, obviously. Well, it's romance and sexuality and magical realism gorgeousness. But in the romantical books, I'd like to see the characters with hobbies that don't involve their partner. Sam is a trans boy. And according to Anna-Marie's author note (please, friends, always read the authors' note) (they're my favorite part of books, usually). Also, the diversity is plentiful. Sam is Italian-Pakistani and Miel is Latina.

At a direr point in the book, Miel has the roses growing out of her wrist forcefully maimed and she bleeds out for about five chapters, but manages to live. So yes, you can survive being maimed but I was just so thrown. I was like, "Ambulance?? Medics?? Hello??" By the end, she was okay and all, but it didn't work for me realistically.

Undeniably, this is a gorgeous read, simply because it was written by Anna-Marie. It handles the deepest, darkest topics and gives them a lighter, prettier touch and this book makes you feel warm. Also: pumpkins. LOTS OF THEM. I'm so glad this book decided to publish in October. I almost wish I read and finished this between Mischief Night and Halloween because it's so perfect, imagery-wise. Alas, I'm a lazy reader. Still, an all-around perfect seasonal book.


  1. Aww this sounds SO good! Also, is The Weight of Feathers really about bird people? Because you know how I feel about bird people... 😂 But seriously, this sounds incredible! I heard that her writing is awesome, and this seems like THE perfect book for Halloween, and I love the sound of the romance, and the deep topics (but that they're handled well too!) and GAH, now I must add this book to my wishlist! FABULOUS review!

    1. It SERIOUSLY IS. So well-written && I'm new to Anna-Marie's writing style, so I was simply like, "Whoa!" throughout this whole read. HA. No lie, but I think it is. That's what I read on GR. lolol. Aaaah, thank you so much!! So excited for your review! :D


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