Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Source: Thomas Dunne via NetGalley
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.Review by Nara
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.
When the Moon Was Ours was a very quirky book. Probably the quirkiest part of the book, and one thread of the magical realism aspect was one of the protagonists, Miel, a girl who emerged from a water tower and has roses that grow out of her wrist. This wasn't the only magical element of the novel, of course, with many small things contributing to the overall quite bizarre atmosphere.
Unfortunately, I found it quite difficult to follow the plot, and this made it hard to really connect with the characters and fully immerse myself in the world. The writing was quite beautiful, but it was so flowery and there were so many tangents here and there that it was hard for me to track the actual sequential plot through to the end.
On the other hand, McLemore is definitely to be congratulated for the way she introduces elements of diversity in her characters without shouting "hey look at my transgender protagonist!". It's introduced relatively late in the book and I probably wouldn't have picked it up until it was subtly mentioned had it not already been stated in the blurb. Apart from the writing, the best aspect of the novel was likely the characters. They're quite well developed, and while the plot was a bit murky, it was easy to see the evolution of the characters throughout (both major and minor).
Overall, while I personally struggled with the book, I can still recommend it to those looking for a book with LGBT and racial diversity as well as elements of magical realism.
It was okayRatings