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When the Moon Was Ours

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  7,924 ratings  ·  1,979 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, 273 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
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Rachel I'm a senior in college and read this book a couple days ago and I totally loved it!…moreI'm a senior in college and read this book a couple days ago and I totally loved it!(less)

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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
chai ♡
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 wa
Lala BooksandLala
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer, favourites
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.
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf 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

RTC <3

Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch

This is the April pick for the Dragons and Tea Book Club! 🐉☕
Charlotte May
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 hims
C.G. Drews
This was SO beautifully written. I really adore this author and my favourite from her is The Weight of Feathers. ...more
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
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 😭😭
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
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
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.
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
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
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 t
Elle (ellexamines)
Jun 12, 2018 marked it as on-my-shelf
"In magical realism, characters can only hide things for so long before magic brings them back up."

-Anna-Marie McLemore

Chara Stans Official keep harassing me into reading this so I guess it'll be time soon,,,, ya know maybe
✨    jami   ✨
“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.
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
Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always
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
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
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
Karima chermiti
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 se
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 n
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.
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
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 scattere
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reads-of-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.
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This review can also be found here!


CW: transphobia, homophobia, and outing

I wanted more from this book. I wanted a whole lot more from this whole story, honestly.

Out of this whole book, there were only two things that I liked: The writing and the accurate portrayal of being a transman.

The writing was absolutely lyrical and was one of the only things that kept me reading. McLemore knows how to turn a phrase and how to draw you in with their words. However, the prose was also very purple and
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
♛ may
Jul 24, 2018 marked it as on-hold-ill-get-to-it-one-day
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 🙃
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
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
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%.
Apr 10, 2019 marked it as to-read

I think I am going to reshelve this for now.
Just NOT feeling it at all.

I might try again in the Fall.
That's when I am at my whimsy-est.
kazually ♡
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: prettyy, boring, confusing, meh
this book literally took me so long to read and idk why. it's literally 200 pages,,, someone explain ...more
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Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by their family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. They are the author of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a finalist for the 2016 William C. Morris Debut Award; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature; WILD BEAUTY, a Kirkus Be ...more

Articles featuring this book

If you like books about queer kids falling in love and having adventures, you're in for quite the treat this month. June brings a great...
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“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.” 28 likes
“It shouldn't have mattered, not when Miel and the other girls in his class wore jeans more than they wore skirts. Not when they told their brothers what to do, and borrowed their fathers' books.
But there was everything else. The idea of being called Miss or Ms. or worse, Mrs. The thought of being grouped in when someone called out 'girls' or 'ladies.' The endless, echoing use of 'she' and 'her,' 'miss' and 'ma'am.' Yes, they were words. They were all just words. But each of them was wrong, and they stuck to him. Each one was a golden fire ant, and they were biting his arms and his neck and his bound-flat chest, leaving him bleeding and burning.
'He.' 'Him.' 'Mister.' 'Sir.' Even teachers admonishing him and his classmates with 'boys, settle down' or 'gentlemen, please.' These were sounds as perfect and clean as winter rain, and they calmed each searing bite of those wrong words.”
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