When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

raeanne's review against another edition

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Trigger Warning: Attempted Suicide, Outing Blackmail.

Superstition. Bigotry. Magic. Freedom. There is a price for everything. What would you pay?

The Gist:
➔Cover Love
➔Beautiful, descriptive, emotional writing
It sucks you in like a lullaby but it’s not soothing lies and nonsense syllables. This is truth, acceptables, courage, and love amid people’s harsh and ugly actions.
➔I loved the descriptions of Sam’s moons.
➔Miel + Sam are awesome people and make a great couple.
➔The pull between them and push of their secrets is convincing and compelling.
➔Each POV is on point as is their switching.
➔Their relationship had me squealing and screaming in equal measure.
➔Sam and his mother’s background is seamlessly incorporated, and impeccably researched.
There should be no question how they ended up in this town, in this circumstance. I appreciate how their religion and cultural norms are there but the narrative doesn’t make it a big deal deal. It’s just there like everything else. It’s, dare I say it, normal.
➔ The forward, dedication, and afterword should be read and felt.
➔The Bonner Girls are the “It” Girls, the Mean Girls
but it’s far more nuanced and understanding than the typical high school drama. Their relationships are complex, their secrets understandable, their actions deplorable. Magic they may hold, but human they be.
➔Loved Miel + Sam’s family. Supportive works in progress.
➔Loved the mystery of what happened to Miel and her previous family before the water tower.
➔And the tension waiting for the Bonner girls to strike.
➔The pacing felt languid with the language and the different issues coming into play but it’s an enjoyable, inspiring, compelling, heart-racing
➔Everything has a purpose and point that come together beautifully in the end.
➔Unexpected and unpredictable. I was honestly surprised yet it felt right the whole way through. It was meant to be, but I didn’t know what was meant until it happened.
➔Most compelling argument for “it’s better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all” from an unusual direction with the teacher/administrator getting her heartbreak removed like moles
➔It weaves secrets and lies, internal and external, as they are stumbling along their own path to finding their truth. Yet it’s not a lecture or shove, but a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
Bigotry and superstition are present and Sam’s secret being exposed is a huge part of the story but it’s not about them. They’re background like Sam and his support is the focus.
➔It is about love, but it’s thankfully not trite “it’ll make everything alright” or “love conquers all”. It’s about how love and fear of losing love affects everyone.
➔There is hope and happiness but the internal struggle and the external one against society is not glossed over. It’s sweet and cute and admirable. Not saccharine, not bittersweet but a healthy inbetween.

Magical Realism: Accepting the Woman Down the Street Can Take Away Heartbreak Without Question

I have not read much magical realism but the trend is for me to be highly confused at first. I want explanations and magic systems for solid logical footing, examination and continuity.

Magical Realism is not like fantasy or paranormals where these are common staples authors ignore at their own peril. Magical realism requires faith that I do not have and trust that I am loathe to give out blindly. And yet..

When The Moon was Ours was one of the best books I’ve ever read. Not despite my issues and initial innate struggling, but because of it. I have found an entirely new genre that requires my full attention, my imagination, cooperation, and adjustment, captures my heart and defies my every expectation. I can never guess what happens next because this world is not my own. I am a guest, invited in but it must be understood and respected.

I am expanding my mind, learning much about other people, cultures as well as myself. It is exhilarating and heartening that I’ve met such a chance head on and enjoyed every minute of it in her skilled hands.

If you’d like to learn more about Magical Realism, I found this online paper very helpful:

Update #2: My very last read of 2016 and what a way to go! This was absolutely fantastic and a great way to end the shit show of '16 in a beautiful way. I'll start writing the review now but I couldn't wait to update my shelves with this happy.

Update #1: YESSS! I won a copy in a Goodreads giveaway! I can't wait to read it. Will update ASAP. :D

khalila's review against another edition

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  • Plot- or character-driven? Character


heathervg97's review against another edition

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emotional mysterious sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


kiperoo's review against another edition

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This book is absolutely gorgeous, and is one of the first books I can remember forcing me to savor it slowly. I know I can--and most certainly will--read it again, but the beautiful strings of words on these pages kept making me stop and re-read individual sentences, paragraphs, pages. The care that went into every word of Miel and Sam's story astounds.

Everything about this story is magical, and the fact that the fantastical details ring so true makes it such a clear example of magical realism, which is so perfectly suited to a story about a boy born as a girl and the girl reborn from the water who loves him. The adults in the story are richly drawn as well, with their own share of secrets haunting them, and as for the villains--let's just say I won't easily forget them.

Easily one of my favorite books this year!

kappareads's review against another edition

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I'm really not sure what to say about this book. Once I got past 140~ pages, I was enthralled, but before that, it was a trudge to read and I was beginning to suspect this flowery language wasn't for me. Then the tides shifted and this book was easier to understand and gripped me.

The problem I had with the beginning was I didn't understand the motive that kicked off the conflict, which made it hard to sympathize with Miel, one of two main characters and the catalyst for the plot. I did enjoy Samir from the start and I loved his story. When I first started reading, what I really wanted was a book with just his point of view and focusing on Samir and Miel growing up, but by the end, we had gotten enough glimpses into their past that I was satisfied.

Oh, and the romance was fantastic. It was so sweet and tender and these two clearly care for one another. That was also another reason why the end picked up for me.

So, I don't know what to say about this book.

juliterario's review against another edition

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¡Y aquí voy con otra novela de Anna-Marie McLemore! Hace tiempo que tenía pendiente esta novela y, aunque no sabía mucho de qué trataba, le tenía muchísimas ganas. ¡Y la he disfrutado a montones! En serio que les recomiendo a montones las novelas de McLemore. ¡VAYA OBRA MAESTRA!

“The way he loved her was his, even if she wasn’t.”

When the Moon Was Ours es, básicamente, un cuento de hadas. Es una novela diversa, importante y mágica que creo que todxs deberían leer si tienen el tiempo. No sé si les cambiará la vida, pero es como un cuento de buenas noches que sin duda vale la pena. ¡Y vaya escritura! La prosa de McLemore es simplemente bellísima, y la manera en la que fluye la historia es hermosa. El trabajo de la autora es brillante, en serio. Me enamoré de la complejidad de los personajes, el romance presente en cada oración, la preciosa escritura de la autora y la magia que respira entre las páginas de When the Moon Was Ours. Es una historia de lo más compleja que captura y enamora tu mente enseguida, y te mantiene enganchadx hasta el final. ¡Disfruté muchísimo esta historia! Y se las recomiendo a montones.

“When they both realized they were heartbroken enough to want the love torn from their rib cages, they touched each other with their hands and their mouths, and they forgot they wanted to be cured.”

¿Por qué no 5 estrellas? Por más de que este libro me hizo sentir un poco de todo, no es una lectura que haya llegado a mí de una manera profunda. Lo amé, lo sentí, lo disfruté y me entretuve a montones, pero eso es todo. No me llegó de una manera personal ni me tocó realmente. Además, el hecho de que When the Moon Was Ours sea un cuento de hadas tan romántico, mágico y metafórico hace que la trama sea bastante difícil. Es todo muy confuso, y no es fácil distinguir qué parte es realmente la trama y qué es metafórico. Todo el libro se encuentra muy enredado, y a veces no es fácil seguir la lectura. Tengo mis quejas, claro, aun cuando lo disfruté tanto. When the Moon Was Ours fue un libro demasiado... extraño. A mi parecer, vale la pena, pero reconozco que es bastante caótico.

“To the boys who get called girls, the girls who get called boys, and those who live outside these words. To those called names, and those searching for names of their own. To those who live on the edges, and in the spaces in between. I wish for you every light in the sky.”

sashahc's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


Do you want lush and lyric writing that you can get lost in full of longing and tenderness and magic?  I got you. “When the Moon Was Ours” by Anna-Marie McLemore is a gorgeous coming of age YA #PrideSFF #book about two best friends dealing with growing into their gender, race, family, and magic.  Miel grows roses from her wrist and Sam paints moons and hangs them from trees.  It’s a book to read all day in a summer hammock with a tall lemonade and cicadas screaming in the background.

(I fully recommend the rest of their books as well.)

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beja87's review against another edition

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kim4673's review against another edition

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emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes