Published by Thomas Dunne Books on October 4th 2016
Genres: Magic Realism, Romance, LGBTQIA, Young Adult, YA
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.
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, this does not effect my thoughts on the book or this review.
When I read Anna-Marie McLemore’s debut novel, The Weight of Feathers, I knew I had to read her latest book. And y’all, let me just say YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED (shouty caps are necessary). I am a huge fan of magic realism and combine that with magical writing? That book is golden (and so is this one)! When the Moon Was Ours is now definitely one of my top favourites of this year (and maybe of all-time).
Roses grow out of Miel’s wrists, and Sam hangs moons around towns. They’ve been best friends for a long time but one nights leads to something more. Outcasts of the town, everyone tends to avoid them. But people also avoid the Bonner sisters, girls rumoured to be witches. When the Bonner girls set their eyes on Miel’s roses, they may expose every secret she has to get her to do their bidding.
It’s hard for me to describe When the Moon Was Ours because the magic realism and lyrical writing is such a big part of the novel and I definitely can not do it justice. In terms of the plot, there is a slow but steady build of a dramatic story arc which I really enjoyed. The first few pages really set the mood and tone for the rest of the novel which I really enjoyed.
I loved both POVs, and I found that Miel and Sam were two very unique characters that really resonated with me. While the writing was 3rd person, I think that it worked effectively to create a more lyrical tone while keeping readers aware of the main character’s thoughts which I really appreciated.
In terms of diversity, Sam is a Pakistani trans boy and Miel is Latina. The author’s note is definitely worth reading as McLemore discusses drawing from her own experiences as well as the experiences of her husband which is definitely worth a read.
Overall, When the Moon Was Ours was a phenomenal novel that I highly recommend. Seriously, I can not praise it enough. And don’t forget to read The Weight of Feathers while you’re at it.