When The Moon Was Ours // Anna-Marie McLemore
“The girl from the water tower, a rose growing from her wrist, and the boy on the wooden ladder, hanging the moon close enough for them to find.”
Actual Rating: 5/5 ⭐
Synopsis [From Goodreads]
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.
Wowwowwow I think When The Moon Was Ours is one of the best novels I’ve read in quite a while, this book is so beautifully written and entrancing that I don’t even know how I’m going to BEGIN to sum up all my feelings into a review. When The Moon Was Ours is a love story of sorts, a story of bravery, of courage, of a girl from a water tower who grows roses from her wrist and a boy who hangs moons. It’s also the story of wickedness, self-discovery and friendship.
One of my favourite parts of When The Moon Was Ours was just how downright beautiful it is, McLemore is so talented and this book is filled with so much lush and vivid imagery; every page of this book felt alive and real. I could see Sam’s moons, Miel’s roses, the Bonner’s glass pumpkins, the glass coffin. The very atmosphere of this book is just WOW, it hooks you and doesn’t let you go. I’ve read some magical realism in the past but nothing quite as fantastic as this; I also really loved the different aspects of Latinx (If I have used this incorrectly please correct me!) culture and folklore in When The Moon Was Ours and I think it added to the beauty and realness of the story. However, this is definitely not the book to use when trying to beat the world record for speed reading, I can see how it could be quite easy to get lost in all the prose and you really have to take your time or you’ll end up missing something.
When The Moon Was Ours is definitely a character driven novel, not to say that there isn’t a plot because there is and it’s quite intriguing but the emphasis is definitely on the characters as well as world itself. Both Miel and Sam are the driving force behind the story and I love both of them fiercely, I think they’re both incredibly well written and complex and they both experience so much growth throughout the novel. Even though much of the novel surrounds Miel it never seemed for one minute that Sam was sidelined or any less of a main character than Miel was; Sam has his own journey of self-discovery and growth separate from Miel’s story. Both Miel and Sam are people of colour – Miel is Latina and Sam is a Pakistani transgender boy – and not once are they ever boiled down to just these aspects of their identity. I think that as a whole they’re both incredibly relatable and multi-faceted characters.
I also think that the side characters are quite nicely written as well. I really enjoyed Aracely, I loved her personality and how she cures lovesickness and the relationship that she has with Miel. I also think that the Bonner sisters are deliciously wicked (although I do not at all condone Ivy’s transphobia) and I liked how they were written as a singular unit because that’s pretty much the essence of who they are for the majority of the novel. I think it’s often easy for side characters to become faceless extras in the main characters story but that definitely wasn’t the case with these ones.
I mentioned at the beginning that When The Moon Was Ours was a love story, and it is! But I also think that there are so many other strong relationships in the story that are so central to it. I thought the romance between Miel and Sam was sweet and I liked that it was built-up from their many years of friendship and even when they weren’t technically ‘together’ that they were still best friends at their core. I thought the romance in When The Moon Was Ours was really well done as a whole and didn’t feel cheesy at all. I also really liked the relationship that Miel and Aracely had as well as the relationship between Sam and his mother, these relationships weren’t pushed aside and forgotten in favour of the romance and they got just as much development as MielxSam did.
I think that When The Moon Was Ours is not only an incredible novel but an important one as well, McLemore has created, for lack of a better word, a fairytale full of diversity, love, courage and absolute art in just a few short pages. When I finished reading this my only thought was: how had I not read this earlier.
| Thomas Dune | October 4th 2016 | 288 Pages | Goodreads |