Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When the Moon Was Ours” as Want to Read:
When the Moon Was Ours
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When the Moon Was Ours

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,392 Ratings  ·  1,021 Reviews
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 consid ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Thomas Dunne
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When the Moon Was Ours, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Rachel I'm a senior in college and read this book a couple days ago and I totally loved it!

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Emily May
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
A beautiful book, all the way from its dedication to the author's note at the end (which is a must read).

When the Moon Was Ours is a magical realism novel - possibly my favourite genre - and as such, most of the story straddles the line between reality and the fantastical. Full of gorgeous writing, unforgettable characters and respect for culture and cultural traditions, this book just dazzles.

It's a story driven almost exclusively by its characters and their struggles. The plot is a little hard
Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
I don't know how to even begin with this book! It's a mystical story of love, scary myths, transgender, magical things I still don't understand. AND, it was bloody brilliant!

Miel and Sam have a special relationship. They have been best friends for years, but they also love one another. Like I said, I was confused during a lot of the book with all of the prose and trying to understand the meanings. But there were parts where the author explained more and it was just this crazy mystical ride with
Sabaa Tahir
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful and painful and honest and magical. I know I can always count on Anna-Marie to deliver a great story, and this one hit it out of the park.
Cait (Paper Fury)
This was SO beautifully written but didn't quite have enough plot. Or, you know, any plot. Hmm. And I'm really upset at myself for not being wholly in love with it because The Weight of Feathers was one of my FAVOURITE books of last year!! I can't stop thinking about the gorgeousness afjkasld. I think the difference here is just that When The Moon Was Ours focused on the lush prose and description and forgot, ya know...a plot.

Don't get me wrong. The writing is beautiful. The words
4 Stars


“The way he loved her was his, even if she wasn’t.”   

This was truly magical-realism. Every word was dripping was magic, carefully woven together into living, breathing, real characters.

... Only the plot didn’t seem to be there?

The blurb says this story is about Miel, a girl who grows roses out of her wrist and is trying to reconcile her past, with all the fantastical stories about her. She befriends Sam, who paints her endless moon fixtures so Miel never feels alone. Then the
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5ish stars.

McLemore's characters are, refreshingly, as varied as the sunlit clouds drifting in the firmament on the first Thursday morning after the Spring equinox. Her prose is... elaborate... like a henna tattoo spanning the entire breadth of a very large back. Yet it is also a Long and Winding Road, travelled by Paul McCartney, leading endlessly to your door beneath the indigo sunset, lined with identical lavender lilac bushes the entire way- beautiful only for the first 100 pag- ahem mile
Hannah Greendale
When the Moon Was Ours is a tender romance woven from opulent prose.

Only rumors can account for Miel's origin, a strange girl with night-black hair and roses budding from a wound on her wrist. Sam has a secret past and devotes his time to painting moons, which he hangs from the boughs of trees all over town. Bound by friendship and love, Miel and Sam share a mutual understanding to avoid the Bonner girls, four sisters said to be witches. But Miel has something the Bonner girls want, and when th
"But it was his body. It was his to name. And he was under this roof of gold and darkness with a girl who would learn to call him whatever he named himself."

This is not a book you read when you want to feel bright and cheery. This is a book that sucks you in, drives a sharp-edged knife of emotional heartache into you, and spits you right back out, filling you with nothing but emptiness and a heartache of your own.

There needs to be more books like these. I can't stress this hard enough. Do you k
Aimee (Aimee, Always)
The most accurate word to describe this book would be beautiful. The story is beautiful; the writing is beautiful; the characters are beautiful. This book is like the first blooms of flowers in the Spring: fresh, unexpected, and memorable.

When the Moon Was Ours is mostly character-driven, and focuses on two very unique characters who you've never encountered before. Miel has roses coming out of her wrist, and Sam hangs moons on trees. But Miel and Sam are so much more than just their quirks. Th
✨    jamieson   ✨
“When they both realized they were heartbroken enough to want the love torn from their rib cages, they touched each other with their hands and their mouths, and they forgot they wanted to be cured.”


If I had to describe this book in one word I'd say exquisite, and then if I could choose a second word lush

Exquisite because, writing wise, this book is a masterpiece. The writing is so breathtakingly beautiful it really feels like every single word was perfectly placed. The
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely breathtaking. It was my first book of 2018, and it's become one of my favourite standalone novels of all time. If you like magical realism and want to see beautiful, moving, sensitive and clearly personal representation of transgender, queer, multicultural issues and views of the world, please pick this book up. It's the loveliest book I've read about issues of identity, gender and otherwise, with gorgeous, whimsical writing and a plot that's delicate yet full of emotion ...more
Such a ridiculously beautiful magical realism YA about the process of claiming your gender and identity, your body, your name, and how to best support and love someone in that process. For so many reasons - the writing, the PoC (Latina and South Asian) representation, the trans representation, the on-page sex - I am so excited this book is in the world.
Bonnie Shores
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other
"To this whole town, she was odd and unnerving. To them, she was the motherless girl who came from the water tower and grew roses from her wrist. A girl whose skirt hem was always a litte damp, even on the driest days. Whatever they said about her liking girls or liking boys was a handful of water next to the whole river. It could not make her stranger, more unsettling, to everyone else than she already was."


This book introduced me to the genre of magical realism, a "chiefly Latin-American nar
He may have known the surface of the moon, memorized the names of the lunar maria, but Miel had done more than that with him. She'd learned him, but left room for the way he was still learning himself. She knew the shape of him, every place that was shadow and every place that reflected light, without deciding he was her to name.

This isn't a book you read for the plot. This is a book you read for the beautifully written characters inside these pages.

I fell in love with Samir and his moons. Samir
"Moon had become his name to this town because of her. Because of her, this town had christened him. Without her, he had been nameless. He had not been Samir or Sam. He had been no one. They knew his name no more than they knew who this girl had been before she was water."


If this novel didn't drag for the first 70 pages or so, it would be a full five stars. I loved everything about it. The whimsical and ethereal writing, the fairytale-like plot, and the diverse, 100% original characters. A
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
I loved Anna-Marie's first book and was so eager to read the next one. Honestly, I didn't even read the synopsis first, I downloaded it on her name alone.

Miel and Sam are fantastic characters. They're both struggling with a part of themselves they don't quite want to show the world. It's simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful to see them navigate the small town they live in. And those Bonner girls had me wondering if I should to jump in to shove them or hug them.

As always, Anna-Marie's prose
Amanda Minnock
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Thank you to St. Martin's Press & Anna-Marie McLemore for my copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to love this book I really did but unfortunately, it was lost on me.

The cover is gorgeous and it is written beautifully but I just couldn't connect with the story which was a shame. I still don't exactly get the plot either, so unfortunately, I'm DNF at 60%.
Current status: Incoherent with feelings. Review to come.


Miel is the girl that emerged from a water tower one night when she was little, and Sam is the boy who paints paper moons and hangs them up on trees. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and not much is known about either her past or Sam’s. Their friendship finds common ground in their weirdness and secrets, and in their teens, blossoms into a lot more. The only people that the townsfolk choose to keep even further distance from tare he
Review originally posted on Lacy Literacy:
"Someday, he and Miel would be nothing but a fairy tale. When they were gone from this town, no one would remember the exact brown of Miel's eyes, or the way she spiced recado rojo with cloves, or even that Sam and his mother were Pakistani. At best, they would remember a dark-eyed girl, and a boy whose family had come from somewhere else. They would remember only that Miel and Sam had been called Honey and Moon, a girl and a boy woven into the folklore
Jamie (Books and Ladders)
Actual Rating: 4.5*

Full review to come closer to release date but GOSH THIS ONE IS SO WONDERFUL. It's as lyrical and beautiful as The Weight of Feathers with so much more magic and suffering. And my heart literally broke into a million pieces only for it to be put back together bit by bit by Samir and Miel. These two though, these two.

I can't say enough good things about Anna-Marie McLemore and her writing because I will literally read her forever. *twirls around* Read this one bitches. (Sorry
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
Full review to follow.
Jessi ♡
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
i cannot coherently put into words just how beautiful, refreshing, magical and important this book is. the writing, the characters and what it transmits is amazing. thank you for this book, truly.
Elke (BEroyal)
4.5 stars

Everything about this book was beautiful.
It is a magical realism story about Miel, who is Latina, and Samir, an Italian-Pakistani trans boy, who have been best friends since Miel came out of the water tower. It is ethereal. It is poetic, whimsical, soft, kind and full of important messages. The writing is absolutely gorgeous.

I am extremely impressed with how McLemore talked about difficult topics in a way that was so fitting for this book it didn't feel like it didn't belong, full of ma
Sue (Hollywood News Source)

Moon had become his name to this town because of her. Because of her, this town had christened him. Without her, he had been nameless. He had not been Samir or Sam. He had been no one. They knew his name no more than they knew who this girl had been before she was water.

When the Moon Was Ours is an exceptional story. It is the book that I expect from The Graces. A reader can't simply describe its premise, because in some way–everything is tied to the focal plot. But, I will try in vain to encaps
Roshani Chokshi
What a magical, inclusive book about love and belonging and identity. The prose doesn't just melt on your tongue, it digs into your heart. The family interactions in WTMWO rang so true. Anna-Marie is a force to be reckoned with, and I can't wait to read WHATEVER she writes next!
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Magic realism via a YA romance with queer characters and themes.

Miel is a 17-year old mestiza with an unusual family history and a rose growing from a scar in her wrist. She also survived a drowning that cost her her mother and brother and now the hem of her skirts or bottom of her jeans is always damp. Her best friend and new lover is a half-Pakistani boy named Samir who is fascinated with the Moon and hangs Moons that he crafts with paint and foil all over town. Both have secrets that threaten
Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
Magical, diverse and completely heart-aching, When the Moon Was Ours is a wonderfully evocative book about the secrets that we keep and embracing each other's differences. Featuring two best friends turned lovers who are both as strange as the other, their unwavering acceptance, friendship and love for each other is inspiring.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get into the book because of the slow start, and to get used to the strange and whimsical story about a girl who grows roses out of
When The Moon Was Ours is like a cauldron with lots of things thrown in: transgender and gay people, mixed race people, small town people and their small town mentalities, some fantastical elements, folklore, love and romance and a few more ingredients. The result was a concoction that felt too diluted, sort of like multivitamins (lots of ingredients, but not enough of any compound to make a difference).

While I love lyrical writing, in this case, it was overdone and repetitive, and I thought the
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
I received an e-Arc of this book in exchange of an honest review

I adored this book more than words can express. It was so heartbreaking and touching and the characters so loveable that I couldn't not like anything about it, even the little things that bothered me at first were totally eclipsed by everything else.
I'm not one to usually read Author's notes but I don't know what brought me to do it this time, and realizing that the author was inspired by her own life to write this piece of art ma
Megan (bookslayerReads)
This is one of those books that you anticipate for a really long time because you've heard nothing but wonderful things about it. And it's also one of those highly anticipated books that live up to your expectations, thankfully. Well... it lived up to mine, anyway!

Miel is our main character, and as you can see from the synopsis, she can magically grow roses from her wrist. Beautiful, fragrant roses. But not everyone sees the roses as something beautiful. Sam, though... our other main character,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: When the Moon was Ours, by Anna-Marie McLemore 1 8 Dec 16, 2017 06:14PM  
FYA Book Club of ...: Dec 2017 - When the Moon Was Ours 1 2 Dec 03, 2017 05:26PM  
Sirens Conference: When the Moon Was Ours 1 13 Sep 08, 2017 07:59AM  
  • A Darkly Beating Heart
  • As I Descended
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
  • Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad, #1)
  • The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)
  • Beast
  • Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)
  • 27 Hours (The Nightside Saga, #1)
  • Of Fire and Stars (Of Fire and Stars #1)
  • Timekeeper (Timekeeper, #1)
  • Girl Mans Up
  • Been Here All Along
  • Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)
  • How to Make a Wish
  • Foxheart (Foxheart, #1)
  • It's Not Like It's a Secret
  • About a Girl (Metamorphoses, #3)
  • Pitch Dark
Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by her family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. Her debut novel THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults book, and a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award. Her second novel, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, was longlisted for the National Book Awa ...more
More about Anna-Marie McLemore...

Young Adult Deals

  • Things I Should Have Known
    $9.99 $2.99
  • These Vicious Masks
    $7.09 $2.99
  • The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #1)
    $4.99 $2.49
  • Queens of Geek
    $7.80 $2.99
  • The Lovely Reckless
    $7.80 $2.99
  • Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Door Within (The Door Within, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Love Fortunes and Other Disasters
    $7.09 $2.99
  • Crash (Crash, #1)
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Memory of Things
    $7.80 $2.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.24 $1.99
  • Love, Lies & Spies
    $7.80 $2.99
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Allegedly
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Unspoken (The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation, # 2)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Gone Crazy in Alabama (Ala Notable Children's Books. Middle Readers)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Been Here All Along
    $7.09 $2.99
  • The Way to Game the Walk of Shame
    $7.09 $2.99
  • Bad Boy
    $7.74 $1.99
  • Season of Fire (The Remnants, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare, #1)
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Haunting Season
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Season of Wonder (The Remnants, #1)
    $7.99 $2.99
“When they both realized they were heartbroken enough to want the love torn from their rib cages, they touched each other with their hands and their mouths, and they forgot they wanted to be cured.” 15 likes
“...both he and she were creek beds, quiet when they were full and quiet when they were dry. But when they were half-full, wearing a coat of shallow water, the current bumped over the rocks and valleys in the creek beds, wearing down the earth. Giving someone else a little of who they were hurt more than giving up none or all of it.” 13 likes
More quotes…