When the Moon Was OursWhen the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elements of magical realism and fairy tale storytelling combine to create this achingly lush queer love story. Miel and Sam are outsiders in a small town. Sam is a boy who paints and hangs moons in the town trees and Miel is a girl that fell out of a water tower a decade ago. Townspeople keep strangers and people considered strange at arm’s length, but Miel and Sam have managed to have each other for 10 years. They keep each other safe and their biggest secrets safer, like the fact that Sam is a transgender boy.

When Miel is targeted by the Bonner girls for the roses that grow from her wrist, they threaten all that she holds true and the secrets closest to her heart. What Miel doesn’t count on is that her secrets are deeper than the river and the Bonner’s cruel relentless detente may have no end if she stays complicit in their demands. A town of old secrets, brujeria, witches and glass pumpkins lend an unforgettable backdrop to this character study of friendship, love and family.

What makes this book so memorable is McLemore’s gorgeous epic prose and the delicate touch she applies to a queer girl in love with a transgender boy. Each sentence is a gift and the dialogue between characters can be so achingly real. Covering themes of racism, diversity, LGBTQ and YA issues, this book will be on everyone’s year end list, including mine.

“The world they had cast between them was both brighter and softer than everything else, cast in deep blues and golds.”

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~Carmen

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