Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release date: October 4, 2016
Genres: YA, Magical Realism, Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
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.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
As usual, I have no idea where to start when I’m absolutely head-over-heels in love with a book.
I was already a huge fan of this author’s writing so naturally, I started this book with high expectations. And, (unsurprisingly), within minutes, I was completely immersed in the gorgeous prose and empathizing with the characters.
The most memorable aspect of this book is the characters. The author truly makes them come alive with vivid descriptions. Sam, an American Pakistani transgender boy, who can be found painting & hanging moons all over town, was my favorite character. Through Sam, When the Moon Was Ours explores gender identity and what it means to be a boy or a girl. Miel, on the other hand, is a Latina girl with roses growing out of her wrists. She “spilled out of a water tower when she was five” and doesn’t know where she came from.
We know from the start that Sam and Miel are in love. This love drives the characters to make decisions that, they hope, will protect the ones they love. There are layers upon layers of secrets surrounding these characters’ existence and as the book progresses, these secrets come out into the open. Part of what fuels the character’s development is their interactions with other characters – namely, the Bonner girls, who could have easily been labeled the villains of this story. But once again, Mclemore outdoes herself by creating complex, rich, characters that aren’t easily definable. In fact, the Bonner girls seemed more akin to a force of nature. These girls want Miel’s roses because they believe the rumours about her roses having the ability to make anyone fall in love with them.
I also loved how this book explores the way culture shapes one’s life. Bacha posh, a Pakistani culture practice, was described at length. Bacha posh is when girls dress and behave like boys (partly to support their families). Eventually, they will live as fully grown women but Sam, initially believes that he is one of these girls dressed as a boy and doing so is necessary to support his single mother. This alongwith other cultural elements and practices are effortlessly weaved into When the Moon Was Ours.
With great transgender and PoC representation, an amazing cast of characters, and stunning prose, When the Moon Was Ours is definitely a book worth checking out.
SO WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? HELL YEAH!