When the Moon was Ours
by Anna-Marie McLemore
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
View at the Traffic light:
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 is beautifully written and evocative. McLemore’s writing should probably be studied at the graduate level to understand how to write description well, because I’ve rarely had as easy of a time visualizing everything in my mind while reading. I was able to see everything–the moons Sam hangs up, the ever-changing color of the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, and the descriptions of things in this world that aren’t physical–Sam’s unease about who he might have to someday become, Miel’s quiet search of wondering why about almost everything.
It’s hard to discuss When the Moon was Ours and really say what it’s about. It has a plot, yes, but it is very much introspective in nature. At heart, it is a love story about Sam and Miel’s relationship–it’s enough of an emphasis that I would call this a magical realism romance. They’re pulled and pushed together like magnets throughout the book, sometimes by their own fear and insecurity and sometimes by outside forces. The main antagonists of the book are the Bonner sisters, who threaten to out Sam(who is a trans boy), and who demand the roses from Miel’s skin. At the same time, they’re not portrayed as villains, but rather players in the story who have their own secrets.
When the Moon was Ours is a beautiful book, and it’s one I don’t know if I can review adequately because it seems like such a personal story in nature, despite the magical elements. The author’s note at the end is very much worth reading for that reason alone. At times the story felt distant for me and I didn’t always connect on an emotional level, which is why it didn’t quite reach five stars for me when I was originally reviewing it on Goodreads. However, I have no actual criticism that makes this book anything less than flawless. I will definitely be reading whatever Anna-Marie McLemore writes next.
A beautiful, introspective magical realism romance about a boy with moons and a girl with roses. The tiny twists and turns the story takes are not exactly surprising, but it is a lovely journey to take. 4/5 cupcakes.