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When the Moon Was Ours

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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.

273 pages, Hardcover

First published October 4, 2016

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About the author

Anna-Marie McLemore

28 books3,168 followers
Anna-Marie McLemore writes stories as queer, Latine, and nonbinary as they are. They are the author of William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist The Weight of Feathers; Wild Beauty; Blanca & Roja, one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time; Indie Next List title Dark and Deepest Red; Lakelore, an NECBA Windows & Mirrors title; and National Book Award longlist selections When the Moon Was Ours, which was also a Stonewall Honor Book; The Mirror Season; and Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix. Venom & Vow, co-authored with Elliott McLemore, is out in May 2023 from Feiwel & Friends, and their adult debut The Influencers is forthcoming from Dial Press in 2024.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,327 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews294k followers
August 3, 2020
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 to follow at times, largely because of the ethereal nature of the writing and the uncertainty over what is actually happening and what is metaphorical. It took some getting used to and that's the reason I didn't rate higher, but once I settled into the style of the novel, I was whisked away into Miel and Samir's world.

This is, ultimately, a book of friendship and love between the Latina Miel and Samir, an Italian-Pakistani trans boy. Woven with Spanish, legends, family dynamics and lunar references, this is a special book, a very different kind of YA that is as important as it is magical. It is wonderful to see a non-contemporary book tackle teen "issues" in such a sensitive and often heart-breaking way. From Sam's experiences as a bacha posh (you should really read about this if it is unfamiliar) transgender boy:
That was his problem. Sam was sure of it. He couldn’t be a girl. But maybe if he waited out these years in boys’ clothes and short hair, he would grow up enough to want to be a woman. He would wake up and this part of him would be gone, like rain and wind wearing down a hillside.

To the racism he endures:
A few of the blond ones, their skin so pink their necks looked red even in winter, told him to go back home, and it had taken him a week of first grade to realize they didn’t mean the bright-tiled house where he lived with his mother.

The book deals with these social issues, but it is subtle, delivered with a feather-light, and yet no less effective, touch. There's also on-page sex that is neither sensationalized nor glossed over, and an unfaltering respect for the characters that evidently comes from an author who knows what they're talking about.

Powerful, moving, and more than a little out of this world.

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Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
March 14, 2021
Anna-Marie Mclemore’s books are vulnerable, hauntingly beautiful patchwork quilt of thoughts and emotions that leave your heart held tight and wishing you could transcend into their level of beauty and tenderness and be rid of all your feelings except for your love for them.

When The Moon Was Ours was no exception.

So what's this book about?

When The Moon Was Ours sweeps you into a treacherous and romantic world that takes center stage in this story of Miel, a petaled girl spilled out from a water tower who grew roses out of her wrist and Samir, who painted a hundred bright moons and hung them anywhere he could get away with. Miel and Samir housed entire armies of information about each other—Miel knew how Sam would never feel like himself inside the name he was given at birth and how he wanted nothing more than to be a boy who grew into a man, and Sam knew how much the roses woven into her veins weighted on Miel and the truth about her guardian, Aracely, who pulled lovesickness from weary hearts.

But there were many secrets neither of them was ready to give up just yet—secrets the gorgeous haughty Bonner sisters, who’ve always seemed less like siblings and more like a force, gathered enough of to compel Miel into obediance, because they believed that the roses coming through her skin had the strength the rumors said: the power to earn them the love of any boy and any heart they failed in winning.

Anna-Marie Mclemore's writing sings—each sentence, each paragraph marvelously wrought, and the plush, sensuous prose unspools the story with delicious languor. Add in the author’s ability to always breathe into existence fully-realized characters that you'll want to live with long after you turn the last page and you've got a story very few writers could conjure in their wildest imaginings and only McLemore could make into something so wondrously, palpably real.

Miel and Samir’s story is an elegantly crafted paean to the healing power of living your truth and the indiscriminate power of love. A story that will carry a dizzying sense of familiarity for a lot of us—made palpable in Sam and his complicated longing to settle an argument that waged deep inside himself, Sam who wanted to carve a space for him in the world but felt like the world was too heavy a backpack that he was carrying through time and space, Sam who was caught in the thorn bush of who he was and was so sure that settling into his truth would be painful that he didn’t trust any path that didn’t come with agony.

“It was his. All of it was his. His body, refusing to match his life. His heart, bitter and worn. His love for Miel, even if it had nowhere to go, even if he didn’t know how to love a girl who kept herself as distant from him as an unnamed constellation.”

And Miel who never gave herself enough credit for overcoming things and getting better or celebrated her strength, Miel who’s convinced herself that loving her isn’t easy because of her sharp edges and missing parts, whose problem was never the lack of love but the inability to understand why anyone in their right mind would want to love her.

Miel and Sam who have always known the tide and undertow of each other’s feelings, their hurts, both small and large, both voiced and unvoiced, for most of their lives, yet being the object of so much tenderness and devotion loomed like a scary specter because they didn’t think they deserved it. But they do. They do. And seeing them eventually embrace it with open arms and let it all wash over them was so beautiful.

“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.” 

Lastly, no review of McLemore's books would be complete without discussing diversity and representation. This is a beautiful love story between a Latina girl and an Italian-Pakistani trans boy woven with an authenticity that stems from the author's own first-love-turned-marriage with a trans man. And here the author not only infuses her Latinx culture into every nook and cranny of this book (such as including the legend of La Llorona—The Weeping Woman) but she also delves deep into the Pakistani tradition of Bacha Posh a fascinating practice where fathers and mothers dress their daughters as boys until they grow up to be women. 

This isn't surface-level, checking-off-items-on-a-list diversity. It’s not just the inclusion of Spanish words and Afghani customs. It’s a way of interpreting the world, of making choices, of navigating life. So not only does it make for a culturally vibrant story, but an eye-opening and educational experience as well.

If there’s any book you would read upon my recommendation, please please make it this one!

If you liked this review please consider leaving me a tip on ko-fi!

Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews62k followers
April 6, 2020
Whoo boy was this book heavier than the cover implies. With their trademark ethereal tone, McLemore yet again pens a piece of magical realism that made me cry, swoon, and gasp out loud at. This is my third 5 star read from this author in as many years, and has solidified their spot in my list of all time favourite authors.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,465 reviews9,621 followers
July 12, 2017
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 real issues.

Miel who grew roses out of her arm was afraid of the la llorona, the mythical spirit-woman who had drowned her children.


There is a lot to that story but I will let you read all of that for yourself. Miel lives with her sister who is said to be a witch because she can take certain things away from you to help you.

This book!

Sam who has so many things about himself that is so sad and so wonderful. I loved Sam and Miel, they were weird, they were different, but they were my kind of people if they weren't anyone else's.

The neighbor girls, I never did understand their story totally. There is some magical things going on there as well. Or maybe it's all just the way it's told in the prose, maybe none of it's magical at all, but I think you will find that the magic IS there.

A beautiful story written by the author and in reading the Author's Note, finding that some of the things have been a reality in her life. And that touched me even more so than the book.

*I would like to thank Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
September 28, 2020
This was beautiful. Odd, but beautiful.

It was also my 75th book this year and I’ve now met my 2020 Goodreads challenge! 😊

Ok, so Sam and Miel are best friends and have been ever since Miel washed out of a fallen water tower.
Sam paints model moons and puts them up all around the town, Miel has roses that grow out of her wrists.

The rep in here is great - Sam is a transgender Boy of Pakistani heritage and Miel is Latinx, the descriptions of how Sam felt in his body and how he wants to define himself were incredible and heartfelt.

“No one else could understand this wanting to live a life different from the one he was born into, so much that his own skin felt like ice cracking.”

We see their relationship grow, while they each fight their inner demons and also outer enemies like the Bonner sisters.

The prose was beautiful, and although I felt I had to take the magic with a pinch of salt because it’s not explained - it just is, I still had a wonderful time reading this and I can’t wait to try some more of McLemore’s books.

“But Sam looked at Miel as if all her sharp edges and cursed petals, everything she’d tried to keep in shadow, were the glinting facets of unpolished rose quartz.”


Having a rough week so I’ve poured myself a rum and coke and been on a book buying binge including this one.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
April 12, 2019
I wanted so badly to love this, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a struggle for me to get through 😭 I loved the characters and the writing, but the actual plot/premise of this was way too nonsensical for my personal tastes. I am saaaad 😭😭
Profile Image for elena ❀.
257 reviews2,871 followers
April 3, 2021
The girl from the water tower, a rose growing from her wrist, and the boy on the wooden ladder, hanging the moon close enough for them to find.

Anna-Marie McLemore has become one of my favorite authors and it's only the first book I read from her. Her writing is exquisitely beautiful and her characters magically drive you into their lives.

Sam and Miel are best friends who are both unique in their own ways but are inseparable. Miel grows roses from her wrist and rumor says it, she was spilled out of a water tower. Sam is hiding his past and his secrets and is known to hang the moons he paints for Miel to see. Together, they are Honey and Moon. Although they are both odd, they also stay away from the Bonner girls, the Bonner sisters, or also known as, las gringas bonitas. They get what they want and will do what it takes for it to happen. This time, they're going for the roses in Miel's wrist. It is said that the roses grown from Miel's wrist have a scent that can make anyone fall in love. To get them, they will do whatever it takes, even if it means giving out Miel and Sam's secrets to the public.

When the Moon Was Ours introduces us to the difficulties of finding yourself and accepting your identity and seeing if you are willing to sacrifice everything to keep the person you love safe.

Her body was not a garden. It was not earth waiting to be rid of brambles and weeds. Ivy had bled that rose out of her body, and now her body was coming with it.

I had never heard about Anna-Marie McLemore until sosomemeone of my friends started posting about All Out and McLemore was mentioned in some of the updates and comments. I went straight to her GR profile because people had mentioned she was Latina and her husband is transgender, which is why she wrote a story on All Out that was from a personal experience. Although magical realism is not the common genre I go for, it has really become one of the most beautiful experiences I have encountered. I am not familiar with it, but I do believe that Anna-Marie is really able to handle the genre. I wanted to go on a binge reading spree of her books, but sadly I don't own them so I have to go to my local libraries to get them since one library has one of her books while another library has the other. She has, though, without doubt, become one of my favorites and I've only read one of her books. I think she handles the theme of magical realism and contemporary so well, along with LGBTQ+ characters. I think how she writes own-voices stories is so inspiring and beautiful.

The novel is an own-voices story. The author is a queer Latina and her husband is transgender. She said in the authors note that she actually wrote this book because of her husband and how he came to accept his real identity and Anna-Marie talked about how they both came to accept their sexuality and who they are as a person. In this book, Miel is a queer Latina and Sam is an Italian-Pakistani trans boy. I really recommend this book now to all the LGBTQ+ book lovers out there and I recommend reading the authors personal note on this book. This book is unique and has its way of moving someone, and reading it was such a beautiful and different experience for me. Own-voice stories are some of the ones I enjoy the most simply because they are personal and can really get you thinking. They can really get you in your feels or just warm your heart (or break it in the nicest and most touching way possible).

I'd like to add that this story also reflects the author herself. While McLemore fears La Llorona, Miel fears pumpkins. The thing is, Miel reflects part of the story of La Llorona. La Llorona is a common Mexican folklore of a ghost woman who actually killed her two children by throwing them into the river after she was angry that her husband was cheating on her. After she saw what she had done, after seeing the bodies of her twin boys floating on the river, she jumped into the river, hoping to die with them. Her soul has then been stuck with the land and is seen around lakes and rivers, crying for her children. With that being said, the story of Miel can be similar because, in this novel, rumors go around saying that Miel's mother actually drowned Miel but then had died trying to save her after she realized what she had done.

I actually grew up being told the story of La Llorona and many other Mexican folklores like El Cucuy, but I was also told the stories of Salvadorian folklores like El Cipitio, La Siguanaba, El Cadejo, and El Tabudo, which are common Central American legends. I remember always being scared of all of them and believing everything my mom would tell me about them. I know they're just ghost stories, legends, and myths but my mom still tells me these stories when she tries to convince me about something. It's hilarious.

Everything about this was beautiful. I borrowed the book from my library and ended up leaving so many small page marks because of how many beautiful quotes I found. Sadly, I have to take them off. The writing was truly the best part of this for me, followed by the characters and then the plot. Anna-Marie really knows how to write a truly beautiful and lyrical story with so much symbolism and metaphors combined. I was really captivated and immersed in the way she handled and wrote every sentence and if this is how all her other books are, symbolized and truly lyrical, I know for sure that I will love her writing.

Sam is a transgender Pakistani boy. Anna-Marie uses the cultural practice of bacha posh that is used in most parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan where mothers sometimes will choose one of their daughters to dress and act like a boy and live like one. This is something that also allows the child to have more social freedom. He can attend school, escort his sisters in public, and would be able to work. This would also enable and lower the stigma that surrounds the families that do not have a male in the household. Because Sam was used to dressing up as a boy and acting as the male of the house, he ended up practicing on lowering his voice, hiding his identity and certificate of a girl and started acting like the boy he wants to stay as.

That was his problem. Sam was sure of it. He couldn’t be a girl. But maybe if he waited out these years in boys’ clothes and short hair, he would grow up enough to want to be a woman. He would wake up and this part of him would be gone, like rain and wind wearing down a hillside.

One other thing I loved about this was the acceptance of it between him and his mother. She told him she thinks its okay for him to go back to being a girl, but he said he's so used to it that he feels like this identity of a boy is his and that he wants to keep it and...stay as a boy. What I loved is that she was completely okay with it and just said "Okay" and literally smiled. Strong and accepting families like those are what makes me truly happy. Also, I mentioned he's Pakistani. He and his mother were born in Pakistan and so because of that, this dark-skinned boy was different. Racism was portrayed in the book and I truly felt bad for Sam at times because he had to deal with being seen like a threat to people even though he's was so sweet, loving, caring, and protective. The book is touching, powerful, and moving, but I also thought the character of Sam himself were those things. His identity acceptance, his relationship with his mother and with Miel, and how he was always there to take care of his needs were such a strong addition to the story.

He's never taken down anything that was letting this town's children sleep. But he was a dark-skinned boy, a kind of dark they could not place, so when he threatened them, they believed him.

I loved reading about Miel and her past and present and her cultural background. I truly loved how she was Latina and I loved how Anna-Marie included some Spanish words in it. I honestly wished there was more about Miel and Sam, Aracely, and even more of Sam's mother and less of the Bonner girls. I honestly didn't understand the whole deal of the Bonner girls, but I guess they're what had the story going. They ended up getting on my nerves quite a lot, but I mean, most of the time, that always happens. The antagonists, I would call it, always has to get on people's nerves and be the reason why many things are ruined especially plots. Although I said I didn't mind the non-existing slow plot, it was false. I mean, the plot is there but it doesn't seem so. The book is 200+ pages, almost 300, and everything is so slow. The pace is slow although the writing adds on to it not being a problem, the idea of taking Miel's roses to make people fall in love with the Bonner girls happened until the end. Since the book has many hints of romance, there are many cute and romantic scenes between Sam and Miel, but because of that, the plot takes forever to get to the point, and that's what really threw the 5 stars for me. As far as I know, everything was perfect except the slow pace, plot, and the Bonner sisters.

She let the rose slip into the water, an offering to the mother who now lived on the wind but had died on this water.

Like I said, romance had its hints here and there. Anna-Marie managed to write such lyrical and metaphorical romantic scenes that were so beautiful to read about and I think she deserves praise for that. Honestly, I'm a fan of contemporary romance, the cute and witty kind. When it comes to sex and such, I tend to skip the scenes and lines. But, with Anna-Marie, it was different. There are times where Miel and Sam undress each other and admire and love each other, but the way McLemore wrote the lines was not disgusting but instead, actually, poignant. They were actually touching and sometimes sad to read about because you could actually feel bad for the two main characters. The ending though, the ending actually filled my heart with bliss and happiness. Many can say it was bittersweet or rushed or not enough, but I thought it was perfectly enough.

One day, they would be no more than that fairy tale. They would be two children named Honey and Moon, folded into the stories whispered through this town

But tonight they were not those children. Tonight, they were Sam and Miel, and he was pulling her on top of him and then under him. The way she moved against him made him feel the sharp presence of everything he had between his legs and, for just that minute, a forgetting, of everything he didn't.

He thought he knew her body. He was so sure that he could have drawn it, mapped it easily as the lunar seas he could paint without looking at a map of the moon. But under his hands, against his own body, she was both safe and unfamiliar. She was a world unknown. She was a place whose darkness held not feat, but the promise of stars.

Miel and Sam's story together is one of the most beautiful stories I've read about. LGBTQ+ stories are really something I need to consider reading more because they're really, truly, beautiful to read about. This is one of the cutest books I've ever read and I really can't wait to read more of the author's works. She really deserves the hype and praise she gets, but she really deserves more. I really had been sleeping under a rock before I found her, and now I gotta say, whoever hasn't picked up a book by Anna-Marie McLemore is missing out.
Profile Image for Philip.
500 reviews673 followers
July 28, 2017
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 miles- before losing their appeal.

The pace drips lazily into our nostrils like the dulcet smell of the honey that Miel licks from an infinite supply of spoons. The magical elements taste lovely. Lovelier even than the way amber waves of grain sound rustling in the midnight breeze. The Bonner sisters, Rusty, Strawberry, Auburn and Pumpkin, act as "the plastics" of our tale but with much more depth- like the adult side of the swimming pool, water glinting and forming patterns on an ivory wall.

We're given a novel here that's at once sensitive, respectful, proud and important, Simba as he accepts his rightful place over Pride Rock. I'd recommend it except I wouldn't want to continue any farther down the Road with Paul.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library.
Profile Image for Sabaa Tahir.
Author 27 books31.8k followers
February 8, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
569 reviews3,936 followers
April 3, 2022
Necesito leer TODOS los libros de McLemore porque sencillamente AMO su manera de escribir.

Tiene un estilo increíblemente poético, atmosférico y envolvente como poquísimos autores que haya leído y además su realismo mágico es del tipo que me gusta. Real, cotidiano pero en el que la magia interviene (y duele).
Este libro es como leer un cuento de hadas oscuro, desentrañar unas leyendas hechas de personajes muy reales y con problemáticas actuales.
Porque 'Cuando la luna era nuestra' tiene mucho de cuento, de fantasía, pero también enseña muchas cosas, habla de racismo, de identidad, de diversidad, del primer amor... es una novela, para mi, redonda porque cuenta todo lo que quiere contar de una manera única y transmitiendo su mensaje claro sin ser moralizante.
Cuantas más veces leo esta historia más me llega, y cada nuevo libro de McLemore vuelve a hacerme vivir en ese microcosmos completamente personal, tan vívido y del que no quieres salir una vez lo has conocido.
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
422 reviews1,629 followers
November 14, 2017
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 elusive Bonner Sisters, who are used to getting everything they want, fixate on Miel.

(But it took half the book to get to that point. Moves slooooowwwwwwww)


I’m late with this review, so as I write this, it’s been about three weeks since I finished this book, and I can’t get it out of my head. The writing here was absolutely gorgeous, completely connecting me with each character and their struggle.

This entire town is solidly fixed as a place in my mind. Each chapter painting a clearer picture of it’s customs, people and river. The whole atmosphere is surprisingly multicultural, including enough lavish food descriptions to keep me hungry for days.

This may be the best trans representation I’ve ever read. Author’s note at the end shows this story is very personal to her, and it shows. Sam is a well-defined character struggling with identity, and his story was heartbreaking and beautiful.


At one point Sam and Mial fight, then make up and fight again? And I’m still not entirely sure what they were fighting about?

What was the deal with the Bonner sisters? I kind of understand what they wanted, and the focus on individuality was great-- but what was that resolution? Why did their big-confrontation and secret spilling lead to glass pumpkin’s shattering?

Oh yeah, a lot of the pumpkins turn to glass throughout this story. It’s set up like a big thing… but never really addressed? Just kinda there?

The ending was a bit much. Maybe it was the fantastical qualities. Maybe the super emotional writing. But at times it teetered towards melodrama.

In Conclusion:

This is a really beautiful story wrapped up in a lot of (too many) metaphors and magical pumpkins.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
660 reviews3,883 followers
June 7, 2019
“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 way the writing is used to create the creepy atmosphere, and the interesting characters and even more interesting setting was amazing. McLemore describes pumpkins turning to glass, roses growing from a wrist, women pulling lovesickness straight out of a persons chest and it all so beautifully, perfectly written it's hard not to fall in love or at least ADMIRE what she's done here.

And I say lush because of the setting and the world. It is magical realism, but there was so many elements to this story I adored. The setting is so rich and I loved the elements added to it, the roses, the water, the moons, the stars, the pumpkins, the glass coffin. I love magical realism and I really loved how it was used in this book.

At first it did take me a little to get into the rhythm of this book, the writing is definitely metaphor and symbolism heavy and that took me a bit to get into. But once I passed page 100 I was really into it and reaching for it all the time. This is a book thats way better if you read it slowly, because it feels like the tendrils of this book slowly wrap around you. I don't usually like slow books but I think it worked with this book, and with it's tone and elements.

I think the representation was also beautifully done. There are two main characters and the book is told from their dual perspective. Miel is Latina, Sam is trans and he is also from Pakistan. There is also another side trans character, and a side lesbian character. This review talks a lot about this book + being a qpoc woman. One thing I really liked how how nuanced the representation was and the exploration of how queer identities intersect with race and ethnicity. The trans representation comes from a personal place for the author (her husband is trans) and I really recommend reading the authors note about it!

Finally, the characters in general were so fun to read about. I adored Miel and Sam and their relationship together, they were such beautiful rich characters. I also liked how their sex was on page and how good they were to eachother. There romance was so soft and tender, and I love how it slowly grew and bloomed.

“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 of this place.”

I know this is a backlisted title, especially since the author has just brought out Wild Beauty but I really think everyone needs to read this! Truly such a stunning book, exploring friendship and family and culture and belonging and personal growth.

The only thing I didn't like about this and why I gave it 4 stars not 5 is that some of the writing was maybe a little too symbolism heavy - for example, I don't really know what was going on with the Bonner girls. That whole storyline felt a bit messy to me.

But beside that I truly adored this book and I think it's such a beautiful, unique book. It you want some YA that is doing something a bit different I definitely recommend this

The pale, rose-colored light had made her expect to look out her window and find all the trees blooming. A million blushing petals against a midnight sky. Spring descended over fall in countless pink blooms.

Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,277 followers
October 5, 2016
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 the Bonner girls want something, they get it.

The fantasy elements of When the Moon Was Ours are immediate yet subtle. It's the sumptuous prose that makes this book magical:

The pale, rose-colored light had made her expect to look out her window and find all the trees blooming. A million blushing petals against a midnight sky. Spring descended over fall in countless pink blooms.

Characters are introduced, and continually described, in ways that evoke the senses:

Aracely had hair as gold as late afternoon, her eyes the deep brown of a wet, fertile field. Miel's hair was dark as a starless autumn, a night made brown by fall leaves, and her eyes matched the gold of low twin moons.

She was the dark amber of beechwood honey, the caramel of sourwood, and the bitter aftertaste of heather and pine. She was every shade of blue between two midnights.

Sometimes the book reads as though the author discovered newfound ways to define love:

This girl who built with him each night a world so much softer and more beautiful than the one he woke to in the morning. She was the wild blossoms and dark sugar that spoke of what the world could be. She was the pale stars on her brown skin.
She was the whole sky.

The soft and sweet means by which attraction is conveyed are, at times, more sensuous than a book that's intentionally erotic:

She had left [the gold foil stars] on [her skin] the whole day, while they let the sun heat their backs. When they ran, her perspiration made the foil shine damp, and it wore the edges of the adhesive, but the little stars stayed. And that night he had lifted each one off her, slowly, so they didn't pull at her skin. [. . .] He had mapped her body like a new sky.

The pacing is tepid but compelling. The characters are mysterious yet complex. When the Moon Was Ours is an evocative read in which love and secrets are the ultimate currency.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Anna-Marie McLemore for providing a free ARC in exchange for this honest review.
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews1,945 followers
March 22, 2022
update: listen.............. it is still 5 stars in my heart


the terrible thing about rereading books I loved in 2017 is that I gave them 5 stars back then and they deserved it, but now I am old and mean and miserable and they will not get 5 stars again

// buddy read with rain!!
500 reviews2,413 followers
September 23, 2018
more by anna-marie mclemore:
the weight of feathers

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. There are really intense and well-developed backstories behind each of them, as well as all the other side characters, which was awesome. And each of them come with so many IMPORTANT themes. There's some trans love here, as well as family loss, bullying, etc!

BUUUUT! Just because the book's focus is on character development doesn't mean it has a crappy story--because it definitely doesn't. It has a gorgeous plot with magical realism--meaning, the story is relatable, realistic, but with tinges of a VERY unique fantasy sub-plot. I actually found myself thinking, "How the heck did the author think this stuff up!?" a couple of times throughout my read. It was THAT different from anything else I've ever read before.

McLemore's personal touch in all of her novels is her gorgeous, flowery writing. To be honest, flowery writing almost always puts me off--I hate beating around the bush. Just tell it to me straight! But McLemore's writing is so easy to read, at the same time is just so fabulously sophisticated. It's the right balance between deep and casual. Perfect for a lazy-but-critical reader like me!

So. If you want to read something that's gloriously different, socially important, and just overall fantastic, PICK THIS BOOK UP. You won't regret it, I promise.


If you enjoyed this, check out this author's other book, The Weight of Feathers, which I thought was absolutely amazing.


Aimee, Always | Twitter | Instagram | Email
Profile Image for Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine).
189 reviews223 followers
March 2, 2018
I chose this book as my Throwback Thursday pick of the week. You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.

This book has been on my NetGalley naughty list for some time. I read it a while ago and was so worried about writing a review that did it justice that I never quite finished that review.

When the Moon Was Ours was my first fantasy/magical realism read in a very, very long time. I wasn’t sure if would enjoy the genre but I’d been hearing so many good things that I just had to read it. I went into it with an open mind and no expectations and I’m so glad I did!

The first thing that struck me about this book was a absolutely gorgeous imagery. Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing is beyond beautiful. She wrote about Miel and Sam with such tenderness that I immediately fell in love with them.

This book is categorized as YA, romance, and LGBTQ+, fantasy/science fiction, and contemporary. I was a little nervous about the whole romance thing. You know I’m an old cynic and I don’t do romance. This was very nicely done, however. None of that over-the-top saccharine stuff. This felt like more than simple romance to me. It felt like something closer to unconditional love; born of friendship, acceptance, and understanding. This book will appeal to pretty much anyone who loves a good character-driven story that will give you all the feels.

Anna-Marie McLemore has written beautiful book; a gift really in that it that celebrates diversity and acceptance while gently reminding us of our sameness. I could definitely relate to some of the emotions and experiences of the characters; the vulnerability and self-doubt that comes with not fitting in as a young person, the fear that if someone really knows all about you they might stop loving you, fears that a friend or peer could betray your secrets.

I had the opportunity to meet the author very briefly as she signed copies of Wild Beauty at Book Expo. She truly exuded a positive energy. I was amazed at how gracious she was while facing a long line of fans, smiling and chatting with each one. I’m looking forward to reading that book and I’d also like to read The Weight of Feathers.

4.75/5 stars

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
812 reviews153 followers
July 29, 2019
Book #4 in The Reading Rush for The Challenge " Read a book with purple on the cover "

Her feeling that the moon had slipped from her grasp seemed locked in a place so far inside her that to reach it would be to break her open

There are books you love and there are books you can't live without. When the Moon Was Ours is a book I can't live without and Anna-Marie McLemore is an author that I will forever be thankful for because of her books and the way the speak to my soul.

This is my second time reading the book and I still fell in love like the first time, everything from the characters to their journey, from the magic the book breathes with its words to the messages behind them is perfect. I'll always come back to this book when I need a friend because this is what the book means to me.


Original Review :

When I read Blanca and Roja , I fell in love immediately and I knew that it won’t be long before reading the author’s other books and here I am, another book and I’m smitten. Anna-Marie McLemore is one of those authors that write books that are genuine, beautiful with words from the heart, it always feels personal reading her books because they are and the way she approaches her topics with care, thoughtless and transparency makes you trust her and want to get to know her as an author and as a person more. If you haven’t read anything by this author so far, what are you waiting for? You just need to discover her books, you won’t regret it, and they’re so genuine and honest for you not to love them.

God knew what words, or worse, this town would have for a boy who’d been born female. They would wrap their contempt and their cruelty in the lie that they wouldn’t have cared, if only he’d told them.

When the moon was ours follows Miel and Sam, two friends who are more than friends to each other and who are regarded as strange by the people of their home, the girl from the water tower and the boy who hang the moons for her, their bond is as inseparable as beautiful and yet, living in a town that lives by rules and judges harshly is never easy for those who dare to be different and live outside the expectations and demands of others.

In this book, Miel and Sam will learn the hard way what they really want from their lives, from each other and they will discover the suffocating nature of secrets while navigating the difficulties of understanding who they are as individuals and the meaning of belonging, of love and of identity.

That was his problem. Sam was sure of it. He couldn’t be a girl. But maybe if he waited out these years in boys’ clothes and short hair, he would grow up enough to want to be a woman. He would wake up and this part of him would be gone, like rain and wind wearing down a hillside.

If you are a reader who can’t strand a book with no plot, sadly, this book is not for you. I say sadly because it’s a beautiful book that deals with important topics like family dynamics, shattering other people expectations of us, embracing the different side of our lives and being truthful to what we want and how we identify our selves.

“She wanted you to have the life you wanted,' Aracely said. 'So figure out what kind of life you want.”

Personally, I love a book with a well defined plot but with this book, I didn’t care about that at all, I cared about the characters, I cared about Miel, a girl haunted by her past, her curse and her guilt after what happened to her family. I cared about Sam, about his life, his choices and I wanted him to love himself, to let others love him and to take his time to know himself better, to have the courage to live his life the way he feels is honest and true. I cared about the Bonner sisters who will learn how to honor the love between them without letting go of themselves. I cared about Arcely and Sam’s mom and everyone’s story and journey.

The truth slid over her skin, that if she loved him, sometimes it would mean doing nothing. It would mean being still. It would mean saying nothing, but standing close enough so he would know she was there, that she was staying

I loved Miel and Sam’s friendship and love and how one dynamic made the other more powerful, I loved the way they cared about and protected each other. I loved how they loved and how they proved the strength of that love over and over again.

I loved this book in ways that I can’t describe, it will always be such a precious story to me, It will stay inside me forever and I’ll never let go of this feeling it made me feel. The best magical realism book I’ve read in a very long time and one of the best books of this year. This is a book I’ll hold near my heart till the day I die.


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.


Full review to come
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 19 books2,396 followers
March 22, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
547 reviews3,543 followers
January 27, 2019
Edit 1/16/19: I just realised I never...crossposted my review???? Anyway I adore this book with my whole goddamned rotten heart and I would die for Miel and Sam. I will crosspost the review in the next few days.

I received an e-Arc of this book in exchange of an honest review

CW: Physical and emotional abuse, transphobia, drowning, death of a parent

Full review originally posted on my blog: Word Wonders

Oh my! I don’t even know where to begin with this book. My thoughts are so scattered and I have SO MANY FEELINGS about it that I don’t even know how to form into coherent sentences. Well, what I can already tell you is that this book was a few firsts to me. First book with a transboy. First introduction to magical realism. And what an introduction indeed. I adored “When the Moon was Ours” more than I can even begin to express and I lowkey want to throw it at everyone’s face (or is that highkey?). Anyway, I’ll stop rambling here and try to do a proper review. But no promises.

Even at the beginning, when I was still deciding whether this book was for me or not, I immediately fell in love with the writing style. The prose is so so beautiful and has a whimsical vibe to it which adds a lot to the story as a whole, it almost feels like a whisper, I really don’t know how to explain it, it just relies so much on metaphors and the like that it makes the whole experience almost soothing, even though the events aren’t. It is written in Dual POV going back and forth between Sam and Miel and because this a heavily character driven story, that is crucial in understanding what they’re feeling at certain points as well as what goes through their minds as certain things happen.

The story broke my heart. Not that it was a sad ending or the like but it’s more about internal struggles that both main characters as well as some side ones go through, which shows that sometimes internal battles weigh as much as -if not more- than any other kind. It is also very settle. in my humble opinion, this book embodies the metaphor of secrets because each character had their own darkness to deal with, something that kept dragging them down and it is not before all of that was revealed that a certain problem was solved and all of that was ultimately related with them coming to terms with who they really were and that was made even more impactful with the setting of the book, it being a very old fashioned little town.

As I mentioned before, this was my very first immersion into Magical Realism and I only have one thing to say, WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG? I’m completely won over by this genre and all it took is this little jewel. I am just in awe in front of how the author was able to weave some “supernatural” elements into the story and still making it seem so real, because let me tell you, I had no problem believing that a girl could grow roses out of her wrist, or that a woman could take lovesickness out of a body. Oh and how I adored all the magic !!

I am not saying that it is flawless, because I was bit bothered by how a certain person’s real identity was discovered by Miel because of how obvious it was all along BUT this is just the kind of book that makes you look through all the minor issues and doesn’t leave you any other choice but to give it full marks. A hundred stars for how many emotions it packs.

So, through the book the characters got through so much development that it is actually impressive, not only as people but also in their relationships with each other.

First of all, we have Miel. She is such a sweet and strong girl who’d do anything for the people she loves, going through hell and back just to protect them and their secrets (read: Sam), but here’s the thing, she has a past that she cannot escape no matter how hard she tries, a past that led her to being the orphan that came out of the water tower and seeing her finally being at peace with that while putting together the missing pieces was remarkable, such a raw and heartfelt Journey.

Oh and Sam! He was my favorite to be honest! It was so interesting to read about a trans character that was in denial, he kept making excuses for himself and hiding behind “Bacha Posh” which is a tradition found in Pakistan -among other places- in which families that have no male presence get one of their daughters to be the boy of the family (I suck at explaining things but that’s about it). And he did that for his mom, or he convinced himself that that was what he was doing while everyone around him knew him for who he really is. And what was the most heartwarming is how his mom knew it all along and let him come to the terms with it on his own timing and when he finally came out to her she had this “Do whatever suits you” attitude about it.

Let’s not forget about the other characters. Aracely for exemple was a huge one for me, I really liked how she was “the Wise one” which made me forget more than once how young she was. Also, the Bonner Girls gave me the creeps, and they still do. Cold sweats I tell you!

At the end, I read the Author notes which is weird for me because I normally never do that but I didn’t regret it one single bit, because I realized that the story was inspired by the author’s own life which gave me a whole new kind of appreciation for it. I highly recommend and truly think that everyone should get their copy when it comes out.
Profile Image for Bonnie Shores.
Author 1 book369 followers
August 3, 2017
"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 narrative strategy that is characterized by the matter-of-fact inclusion of fantastic or mythical elements into seemingly realistic fiction". VERY. COOL.

When the Moon Was Ours is the beautiful story of Miel and Sam and it is told in their alternating voices. I knew nothing of this story going in and was, therefore, surprised to learn of the secrets that each of these characters kept. Both have major identity issues to deal with, and they don't necessarily know what to say or how to say it. At least out loud. To each other. But their inner voices are so full of love and compassion and understanding, and sometimes words are overrated anyway.

When she was only five, Miel found herself in the middle of a field, having flowed out from a dilapidated water tower that had just been chopped down. Soaking wet, scared and all alone, with the whole town looking on, Sam comes to her rescue and calms her. Best friends from that moment on, Sam quite literally "hung the moon" for Miel—he fashions moons out of any material he can find and hangs them everywhere so that Miel will never again feel alone or scared.

I don't want to say anything else about this story because it deserves to reveal itself at its own pace. The issues it deals with, though, will ache your heart because, after all... Don't we ALL want to be accepted for who we really are?

As for the writing... It is lyrical and poetic and made me think the author is also an artist who made up this story after painting a fantastical picture of pumpkins and water and moons using every color she owned. There is an author's note at the end, though, where Anna-Marie McLemore explains how this amazing story came to be.

FAVORITE QUOTE: "She may have been a porcelain figurine, repaired by the finest hands, but she had still cracked and broken. When anyone held her up to the light, the milky threads of where she'd been glued back together showed."
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,044 reviews903 followers
February 7, 2017
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 author was trying a little too hard. If I'm being honest, I thought the magical realism element was an unnecessary add-on to make the book more whimsy. Good whimsy and magical realism are difficult to pull off.

There are some interesting plot twists. Secrets. Mean, beautiful girls. The classical fight between the good and evil.

Our main protagonists are Miel, a girl who fell out of the old water tank, and Sam, who's a transgender boy. They are the best of friends. Eventually, things progress into more.
I wanted to be more connected, to feel more for the two, perfectly lovely characters.

I appreciate what McLemore tried to portray, although, at times I got irritated when told how to feel and think.

These sort of books are necessary. Just because we need to read more books about diverse people, it doesn't mean that one should put aside critical judgement.

Nevertheless, I recommend it.

3.5 stars

I've received this novel via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the publishers, St Martin's Press, for the opportunity to read and review this novel.

Profile Image for Cassandra.
691 reviews86 followers
December 8, 2016
"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. As other reviewers have stated, this novel isn't for everyone. Not by a long shot. It's odd, and extremely detailed, and at times, utterly confusing.

However, it's still magical, and real, and just unlike anything you've ever read before. When the Moon Was Ours is what this blooming subgenre of Magical Realism is made of. A girl being found in a water tower, a bacha posh who doesn't want to return to being a girl, and four sisters whose magnetic pull might just be witch craft.

This book had so many high points, but my personal favorite was how the author weaved so many cultures into this novel. Mainly Samir's Pakistani-Italian roots and Miel's Latin ones. I come from a Puerto Rican family, and I can assure you of the authenticity of the Latin culture references and meals. I adored learning more about Samir's Pakistani history, especially since this is the first novel I've read that looked in-depth at it. Understanding the role and purpose of the bacha posh was amazing. In a brief summary, it's a practice families without sons go through where one of their daughters pretends to be a son until adulthood so she can accompany her sisters places and do all of the duties usually performed by a son.

One of the best parts of this novel was the author's note. It's so honest, precious, and profound that I want to find Anna-Marie McLemore and hug her. Here it is so you can bask in it's beauty:

"To the boys who get called girls,
the girls who get called boys,
and those who live outside these words.
To those called names,
and those searching for names of their own.
To those who live on the edges,
and in the space between.
I wish for you every light in the sky."

If that didn't convince you to at least look into this novel, I can't help you. This is definitely not for those looking for a light, speed read, but for those looking for something deep, profound, and magical, this is for you. Once you get used to the prose, it engulfs you, and this book truly takes flight. Perfect for fans of The Night Circus or other rising stars in this lovely little genre called Magical Realism. :)
Profile Image for Romie.
1,075 reviews1,272 followers
May 29, 2017
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, this gentle boy who's desperately trying to make everyone see this is who he really is : just a boy. Not a girl called Samira, not a bacha posh. Just Samir.
He's a boy who doesn't want to disappoint his mother, this mother who gave up everything to have him, her precious child.
A boy in love with her girl with roses growing from her wrists.

Miel is this one character you want to protect no matter what. She's so loyal - to her mother, her brother, Samir - she doesn't even realize she needs to be loyal to herself. She needs to love herself for this strong woman she is.

I don't really know what to say about this book .... I don't know how to describe all these feelings it made me feel in only 270 pages. Just know that you'll fall in love with this poetic writing, you'll end up wanting more.

From the author's note :
This is the thing I learned from loving a transgender boy who took years to say his own name : that waiting with someone existing in that quiet, wondering space with them when they need it, is worth all the words we have in us.

Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,798 followers
Shelved as 'on-hold-ill-get-to-it-one-day'
July 24, 2018
Buddy read with a lil(y) cutie

i REALLY LIKED wild beauty and i think my friends will delete me if i dont love this one more but we'll see 🙃
Profile Image for Amanda.
196 reviews45 followers
August 28, 2016
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%.
Profile Image for Celia🪐.
521 reviews1 follower
October 20, 2022
Y llegó un momento largamente aplazado, el de que me estrenase con un libro de la editorial Duermevela. Llevo siguiendo su andadura desde que apareció su primera publicación en el mercado, y no hay ninguno de sus libros que no me llame la atención poderosamente. Y tengo que decir que no podría haber escogido para empezar un libro mejor que el de “Cuando la Luna Era Nuestra” , un libro que tenía desde hace mucho tiempo en espera de hincar el diente, y que era una novela de la que solo he oido cosas buenas sobre lo mágica y especial que eran la historia , los personajes y la manera de escribir de su autore, Anna-Marie McLemore. Y la única manera de comprobarlo ha sido leyéndolo. Y realmente el libro ha cumplido esas expectativas de una forma que me ha sorprendido muy gratamente.

No quiero hablar mucho del argumento de esta novela, creo que es una de esas historias en las que es mejor entrar sin saber mucho de ella, dejar que todo en ella fluya delante de ti, dejando que la propia historia atrape al lector con su atmósfera mágica y sus personajes. Baste decir que trata de la historia de amor y amistad entre Miel, una chica que un buen día aparece del agua y en cuya muñeca florecen rosas, una joven sobre la cual flotan algunas leyendas poco halagüeñas; y Sam, su vecino, un chico de origen pakistaní que pinta lunas para espantar las pesadillas de los niños del pueblo en el que ambos viven y que tiene un secreto que le tortura.

Estamos ante un mundo en el que la magia se da de la mano con los prejuicios, el miedo y la discriminación, lo que convierte al pequeño y anónimo pueblo en el que viven nuestros protagonistas en un lugar que tiene tanto de lejano como de real y cercano. Es el escenario perfecto para este cuento de hadas oscuro y moderno sobre el amor y la búsqueda de la identidad, que habla sobre los espacios vacíos ya no solo dentro de las personas, también entre ellas mismas, y la forma en que uno mismo debe buscar la manera de rellenarlos y de tender puentes unos con otros. De como el dolor hace que las personas puedan llegar a comprenderse entre ellas y a descubrirse a si mismas.

Nos encontramos ante una historia intimista, con un mensaje muy potente y lleno de símbolos, pero no unos símbolos claros y enormes y muy bien pensados. Su encanto estriba en que son los símbolos que reposan en las pequeñas cosas de lo cotidiano. Que se manifiestan en el contacto entre las pieles de dos personas que se quieren. Que flotan en el aire en los olores, que se pueden probar en las recetas que han pasado de generación en generación en las familias de les protagonistes. Que viven en las tradiciones, leyendas y cuentos de las culturas a las que pertenecen, la afgana y la latina. Son símbolos que generan esa atmósfera propia y especial que envuelve toda la historia desde su primera página formados por agua y calabazas, rosas y lunas, olores y sabores. Es una historia pequeña pero a la vez muy grande, que habla de cosas importantes y da voz a personajes que cada vez tiene más peso en la literatura actual y pone el foco en diferentes realidades que siempre han existido.

Es una historia muy intima y muy especial. En el epilogo le propie autore reconoce que se basa en su relación con su marido trans, y en el viaje que ambes hicieron juntes para conocerse así mismes y descubrír de la mano sus propias identidades. Eso le da una patina a la historia que la hace muy especial y que pesa mucho. Pero a la vez, creo que de ahí surgen los dos grandes problemas que he tenido con la novela y que han hecho que no pueda ponerle las cinco estrellas de pleno: en primer lugar, que me ha costado mucho meterme en la historia, hasta haber finalizado el primer tercio de la lectura no he podido conectar con ella totalmente. Y en segundo lugar, que creo que la narrativa tiene un ritmo demasiado pausado durante la mayor parte del tiempo. Hay momentos en que me ha dado la impresión de que se sucedían páginas y páginas en las que no pasa nada de nada. Que si, que se incidía en las descripciones psicológicas, en el mundo interior y en el sentir de los personajes, y en su relación. Pero la trama se estancaba demasiado para mi gusto. De todas formas, tengo que reconocerle algo a McLemore como escritore: cuando parece que su obra se queda en stand by, sabe como hacer que siga avanzando, a lo largo de la misma hay varios giros de guión y situaciones realmente potentes y que sirven de revulsivo cuando parece que todo está deviniendo en un impasse.

Pero todo eso no quita ni una coma a la belleza de la prosa de McLemore y al tono intimista y lleno de detalles con el que cuenta su cuento. Me habían dicho que todo en esta novela era especial, y tengo que decir que así ha sido. Como os dije antes, la forma en que le autore narra es pausada, se toma su tiempo para ir entre tejiendo los hilos de este tapiz lleno de colores, de matices y de claoscuros. Ni tampoco se puede ponerle alguna queja a la forma orgánica y natural en que lo cotidiano se entreteje con la magia, y como todo ello va de la mano con un discurso inclusivo sobre el mestizaje, la diversidad sexual, el choque cultural y la necesidad de aceptarse tal y como es uno. Ni a lo bien construido que están sus personajes.Y no solo hablo de la pareja protagonista, Miel y Sam . Hablo también de los secundarios, los cuales tienen un peso esencial de la trama. Caracteres como el de las hermanas Boner y Araceli hacen que la historia sea lo que sea. Cada una de estas cinco mujeres tiene su propia historia que contar. Pero también su propia personalidad, sus propios miedos, sus propios deseos. Y están tan firme y nítidamente trazados como los de Miel y Sam. Al final no estamos ante una historia de buenos y malos nada para nada. Y esa es una de las cosas que más me han gustado de esta lectura. Estamos ante una historia de personajes y de seres humanos, que tienen miedo, miedo a los prejuicios, miedo a perder algo, miedo a perderse a ellos mismos, miedo a no encajar de alguna manera en lo que el mundo (ese microcromos que es el pequeño pueblo en el que tienen lugar los hechos narrados) les ha impuesto. Son personajes que buscan respuestas a sus dudas y aquellos que de alguna manera les atormenta. De ahí que “Cuando la Luna Sea Nuestra” sea la narración sobre la identidad de estos personajes y la búsqueda de la misma. Y cuando hablo de identidad me refiero a ese concepto en todas las vertientes que el lector pueda pensar.

Por supuesto, mención especial a la edición preparada por Duermevela para traernos esta novela. Me enamoré de la portada desde la primera vez que la vi, me parece una auténtica preciosidad. La traducción es también una maravilla. Y al final de la obra hay un un breve y muy interesante ensayo sobre la novela y sobre el género del realismo m��gico, que me parece el acompañamiento perfecto para finalizar esta lectura que ha sido una auténtica gozada leerlo.

En definitiva, solo puedo animaros encarecidamente a leer “Cuando la Luna Era Nuestra”. Podría decir muchísimas cosas en esta reseña, pero creo que una de las gracias de esta lectura es no saber mucho de ella e ir descubriendo poco a poco de qué va y como son sus personajes, dejar que todo vaya lentamente germinando delante de ti. Para mí este consejo es la mejor crítica que puedo hacer de esta obra, en serio os lo digo. Se trata de un cuento de hadas diferente, en el que todos los personajes deben de ser sus propios héroes. Realismo mágico en su más pura forma, en la que se da voz a aquellas voces que durante siglos han sido calladas e ignoradas, por medio de la magia y los símbolos. Una historia que remueve, que no deja indiferente, que marca para siempre al lector una vez que cierra el libro definitivamente. Era un libro que estaba deseando leer, y que no me ha decepcionado para nada. Ojalá que pueda leer más cosas de Anna-Marie McLemore. Si todo lo que escribe es tan bonito y tan único, creo que mi relación con ella puede ser larga y fructífera.

Pd: es la primera vez que uso el lenguaje inclusivo para hacer una reseña. Obviamente no estoy muy segura con él, algo que espero ir puliendo con el paso del tiempo y a medida que vaya leyendo más libros con este lenguaje y los vaya reseñando. Así que si veis algún fallo en la forma en que está escrita esta reseña no os cortéis en decírmelo, por favor.
Profile Image for Justin.
98 reviews6 followers
June 3, 2017
I truly do not know where to start with this book. I VERY rarely give books one star, but holy hell, this book was just so bad. To me, this book is an example of an author trying too hard. I mean, McLemore tried SOOOO hard to sound complex and magical and literary. She tried SOOOO hard to have tension and drama and suspense and mystery. (Some of the dramatic plot "twists" literally made me laugh out loud with their ridiculousness. I felt like I was watching a Mexican telenovela, and not because two of the characters were Latina.) It didn't work. At all.

Magical realism is fine, but it has to exist for a reason; otherwise, all verisimilitude is lost. As a reader, I have to accept the realities the author is creating for me, even within a magical world. Except this world wasn't really magical, just certain random, inexplicable things were. One girl has roses that grow out of her wrist. (The entire book, literally, I kept thinking about the logistics of this. Of all the places on the body to have a flower growing out of, the wrist has got to be the worst and most inconvenient.) This other kid paints moons and puts them up, ostensibly ALL OVER the town. Why?? Like the flower, this could have worked, but McLemore never allowed it to BE anything because she was too concerned with using pointless literary language and creating baffling images and analogies. Then there are these red-headed Bonner sisters. (I now know every single word and image to describe red hair. They're all in here. All of them. Many times over.) They're terrible, awful human beings. And why? We're never told. How can they all, every one of them, be such terrible, evil b**ches and their parents never have a clue? They have this pumpkin farm, and all their pumpkins start turning into glass. What?! It makes no sense. For the first half of the book I wondered if "glass" was meant metaphorically, like they were just really fragile and they symbolized that fragility of, I don't know, the Bonner sisters' egos? innocence? But nope. They were literally turning into glass pumpkins. Maybe it was just so that McLemore could use every word in the thesaurus to describe glass.

Perhaps the most tragic thing in this 200+ page soap opera was that I never, ever knew the two main characters, Sam and Miel. They talked. They did things. But they were given zero personality. I couldn't hear them. I couldn't see them. I couldn't feel them. And because I couldn't do those things, I couldn't connect with them. This simply has to happen to get into a novel. Every single character was flat and bland and pointless.

(I feel like I'm writing one of those angry emails that should be set aside while I relax and then revisited and revised. But, crap, there are so many amazing books out there waiting to be read, and I feel like this book stole hours and hours from me.)

The final sad thing is that this book deals with transgender issues, and it could have been such an important and effective way to teach readers about what it means to be trans, what it feels like to grow up knowing that your outside doesn't match who you are on the inside. But again, McLemore took that opportunity and threw it away.

As Trump would say, "SAD!!!"
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,710 reviews701 followers
September 15, 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 is some of the prettiest I've ever read. Her imagery is amazing and I want to live in these worlds she creates. I could read her characters forever.

**Huge thanks to Thomas Dunne and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
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