When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: 9/10 Stars

 

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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.

 

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Overall Rating: 9/10 stars

Arthur’s Review: 4/5 Stars

This book is very beautiful. The style is lyrical and vivid. It’s haunting and quiet. Sometimes it gets lost in itself, but overall it’s well done.

This book deals very well, I think, with the trans content. A big overarching question in this book is the subject of lies. Is Samir lying? Is Aracley? What is the lie when one is trans – not revealing or revealing? Samir and Aracley aren’t the only ones who have to face this question and I think that says a lot – the focus of the book isn’t just on the trans characters, it isn’t just about their experiences and what truth is for them. Other characters have to face their own truths and accept them, step away from the lies that they construct in the hopes of keeping themselves safe.

Another thing that I really liked was that Samir was still figuring out how to name who he was. He had words that he could use to help him understand how he felt, but he hadn’t quite come to a conclusion yet. And much of his journey in the book his him trying to figure out exactly what words fit.

I’m always uneasy about revealing the dead names of trans characters. It makes sense in the structure of this book, but I also just long for more books where it never comes up.

Maria’s Review: 5/5 Stars

This book was absolutely amazing and broke me in the best ways possible. The sheer beauty of it and the terrific prose had me weeping, and it was “only” the bonus to a wonderful story that was deeply human and magical at the same time. Miel and Sam – water and moon – were such a beautiful pair of characters, taking me into a world full of flawed humanity not understanding magic, but still wanting to have it. Or at least destroy it if nothing else.

And yet, at their hearts, they were just two young adults struggling to find their way as their own persons and as a couple in a world full of wonder and pain, microaggressions and kindness, racism, bigotry, life and death. Sam’s journey of accepting his gender identity, his love for Miel even if it might bring him the worst heartbreak and his looking for guidance in a world full of uncertainties was heartbreaking and so hopeful in the end. And Miel…Miel had her own demons to carry and fight and her own path to walk, all the while learning that sometimes you can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders alone. That she got to reconnect with her sister after so many losses and empty spots in her life made me so emotional, I had to stop reading a couple of times.

Some of the cis characters, especially the Bonner sisters, made me exactly as uncomfortable as they were meant to, others probably weren’t intended to make me cringe. The difference between causing harm out of spite and revenge and out of a deeply rooted sense of love and well-meaning is often a lot smaller than we think.

All in all this is one of my most favorite reads of all time. It takes a long, deep and complex look at what family and love can mean, what they can be and what they can drive us to do. Pure magic.

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