When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore


***I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review***


SYNOPSIS: Miel and Sam have been friends since Miel fell from the old water tower. He is the only one that isn’t afraid of her flowers and she is the only one that knows his deepest secret. As their relationship blossoms into something more than friendship the Bonner girls (the prettiest and most enigmatic girls in the town) force Miel to give up her flowers or they will let everyone know Sam’s secret.


I fell in love with Anna-Marie McLemore last year when I was given an ARC for her debut novel The Weight of FeathersWhen the Moon Was Ours has improved upon all the wonderful elements McLemore explored in her debut as well as breaking ground into territory she didn’t utilize in her debut. The magical realism was much more prominent. I love that Miel has roses growing out of her wrist and they serve no purpose other than to other her and I love that everyone believes that they have magical properties because it is so unusual. I also love that Sam is able to paint realistic moons that glow like the real thing. There are all sorts of magical elements that McLemore uses to further the plot and build the world that work so well and are just beautifully described. I fall in love with her writing a little more with each chapter that I read. Sam and Miel had a perfect relationship that beautifully transitioned from friendship to romance and their fights felt realistic. I also loved that they made up just as quickly as they fell apart so there was hardly any annoying angst. There are some mysteries surrounding both Miel and Sam’s past that are revealed in nice little chunks so you don’t feel like anything is given away and at the same time you don’t feel like you’re being needlessly strung along. I also like that Miel and Sam have to go on similar journeys of accepting themselves, but for completely different reasons. Miel has to learn to accept her flowers as a part of herself rather than a curse held against her and Sam has to accept that he is truly Samir and will never go back to being Samira like he’s told his mom for all of these years. I haven’t read a lot of books with trans main characters so I don’t know what the common tropes for them are, but I do know that a common trope for books with a gay or lesbian main character is that the story is all about coming out. I like that Sam’s story didn’t revolve around him telling people that he is trans because the only people that mattered already knew. I liked that his struggle was admitting to himself that that was what he wanted. I know I haven’t seen a lot of that internal struggle with characters of any gender or sexuality and I like that the struggle wasn’t obvious in every chapter from Sam’s POV it was just something in the background that got hinted at, but you weren’t beat over the head by it. My only complaint is that the Bonner sisters are the main antagonists, but I still feel like they are so unknowable compared to Miel and Sam. I wanted to see each of their individual personalities more (especially with Chloe) and I wanted more interaction between everyone. Other than that the story was beautiful, the characters are beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what Anna-Marie McLemore writes next!

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read another one of this author’s book! Buy it here.


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