Review #18 // When the Moon Was Ours – Anna-Marie McLemore

Miel and Sam are best friends. Both are different. Miel has roses growing from her wrists, and is rumored to have come out of the water tower when she was 5. No one knows anything about Sam from before he and his mom moved into town. But, all of their secrets are on the verge of being revealed when the Bonner girls start going after Miel’s roses.

Why this book?: LGBT+ rep and the beautiful and unique summary!

I would like to thank the people at St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to have an ARC of this book via NetGalley.

Magical Realism at its finest

From the moment I set upon reading When the Moon Was Ours, I was completely entranced. I found the story to be so magically unique that I was marveling at everything from some never-before-heard names that for once didn’t sound weird, to the way McLemore wrote. I’m not exactly clear on what I was expecting of this book, but it was definitely not being blown away like I have.

The way that the magic was so effortlessly entwined with the story, at how the magic was whispered to be familiar and yet different at the same time only helped to make the world so much more interesting and absorbing.

I loved seeing how Miel’s roses affected her and vice versa. The river that was seemingly alive, and the four girls who could turn pumpkins into glass. All of this magic was new and refreshing from the same, repeat elemental or mental magic. And I loved it.

My only complain about this book was how thick and dense the writing was in the beginning. I found it hard to keep track of what was going on, and at what point in Miel and Sam’s life this book would take part in. The writing was thick of metaphors and other figurative language that I didn’t at first understand. And then, something clicked, around the time that the story stopped in introduction.

A Lesson in Diversity

If you need a fresh look at diversity, this is the book for you. No joke.

Trans characters, as well as gay (could be interpreted as bisexual), people of color, AND the author is Latina. And queer. If that isn’t diversity, I don’t know what is.

At every new addition, I squealed with delight. It was so nice seeing all of these diverse characters, and with the entrancing writing and world building, I pretty much believed that their world was real. I was expecting to run into Miel and Sam in the supermarket or in town.

I also loved how McLemore pulled no punches. She mentioned that people would scorn the gay character, and that if they found out about Sam’s secret, they would hate him. She said what was true, that even if you’re a decent person, you will be ostracized for your differences. Even though Sam’s mother was popular all-throughout town for being the best caretaker, she was still ridiculed for where she came from.

Final Rating: ★★★★★


I fell in love with this book so much, I found myself crying at multiple points in the book, so hard once that my mother had to double check that I was okay. It was so honest and magical, overflowing with diversity that made my heart swell with joy.

Would I Recommend?

I will never not recommend this book, and will definitely be going out to buy my own copy, if only to stain it with more tears. I can’t wait to read more of McLemore’s books, because I want to see how else she’ll manage to weave beautiful stories with this must diversity and magic.

28220826Additional Information:

Published: October 4th, 2016

Publisher: Thomas Dunne

Page Count: 288

Genre: Young Adult/Magical Realism/Fantasy


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.

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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