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Wild Beauty

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Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

340 pages, Hardcover

First published October 3, 2017

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About the author

Anna-Marie McLemore

30 books3,240 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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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,988 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
322 reviews156k followers
March 13, 2021
“Even in its first faint traces, love could alter a landscape. It wrote unimagined stories and made the most beautiful, forbidding places.
Love grew such strange things.”

Wild Beauty is an own-voices novel about queer women of color who love their lovers out of existence and grow flowers that never keep to where their hands put them, and soft boys who appear from nothingness to relearn the letters of their names in an alphabet that's constantly changing. It's about brown-skinned men who are driven out of their lands by men who duct-taped down six shelves of their sweat and hard-work, and shatterproof legacies that consist of pinning flowers to the earth in an unwitting attempt to conceal the decaying ruins under. It's about intentions that are rooted in good but that often grow thorns in the end, and love stories that always come with the price of loss.

This is a story that both broke my heart and held it tenderly inside me. As a queer person of color from a country that fell under imperialism and is still affected by it, reading this book felt like a hand reached for and found in the dark. I really can't put into words how much own-voices stories like these matter for marginalized readers. We finally get to star.

“Her heart was poison. It was a close tangle of thorns. Even when it held love, that love came sharp, and she didn’t know how to offer it to anyone except with the edges out.”

Wild Beauty is an iridescently beautiful book. It should be covered in rose petals, so it might shed a rose petal everywhere it’s been just so everyone might know it’s been there.

McLemore's prose is so unique it can't be replicated. It's actually strange how much of an impact beautiful writing can have on a person. A string of words stitched together can pluck at your heart like fingers upon the wires of a harp, sink into you like a stone sinking into water, open your eyes, change the landscape of your world. McLemore does that.

But it's the characters that won over my heart. Starting with The Nomeolvides girls. Every Nomeolvides woman is doomed to a life of shoving people inside their hearts where they stuck out like shards of glass and it would hurt every time they came close to loving them. A Nomeolvides is as likely to fall in love with a woman as with a man but their love will always make them disappear... So what happens when not only one but five Nomeolvides cousins fall in love with the same girl? I honestly love these women and if I could actually get the moon to always shine down on their faces, I would.

“Twice as many paths to trouble, their mothers would whisper. As though their daughters loving men and women meant they wanted all of them in the world. There was no way to tell their mothers the truth and make them believe it, that hearts that loved boys and girls were no more reckless or easily won than any other heart. They loved who they loved. They broke how they broke. And the way it happened depended less on what was under their lovers’ clothes and more on what was wrapped inside their spirits.”

And there's Fel! When the Nomeolvides cousins feared that they would love Bay (who's genderqueer, by the way) into disappearance, they offered a sacrifice to the gardens which they're bound to. So La Pradera brought them a boy, Fel.

Look, I love Pure and Soft characters. The ones who are too good. The ones who give everything to the universe and stay soft at heart even when it's treating them horribly. The ones who would do something and your immediate thought would be “I would die for you” no matter how small or inconsequential (like cooking for 15 grieving Nomeolvides women without being asked).

“Fel remembered the times he’d tried blinking away the feeling of tears along his eyelashes, saying I’m not crying. Adán always held a kind laugh under his words when he said, Yes, you are. Not an accusation, an assurance that Adán thought no less of him.”

Also, I ship Fel & Estrella so much I want to drown myself whole and entire in theirs hearts for a brief moment of rieful tenderness. And I'm honestly totally down to read an entire book about them just haunting local streets at 3am. What a power couple.

Profile Image for Melanie.
1,175 reviews98.8k followers
October 14, 2020

ARC received via #arcsfortrade on Twitter!
(Thank you so much, Kendice! ❤)

“Love grew such strange things.”

La Pradera is a magical garden estate, that is curated by a family of women who are unable to ever leave permanently. The Nomeolvides girls are five grandmothers, who had five daughters, who are the mothers of the five young girls, who this story centers around. This land of La Pradera is both blessed and cursed. Blessed, because all of the women can create life in the form of beautiful flowers. Cursed because if they fall in love with someone that doesn’t belong on the land, the land will take them from the women; just vanishing one day.

“There were two kinds of Nomeolvides hearts, ones broken by the vanishings, and ones who counted themselves lucky to have seen the back of their lovers as they left.”

Estrella, Gloria, Dalia, Azalea, and Calla are the youngest generation of Nomeolvides women and, one day, La Pradera gives them back a gift: a boy from the very ground that has taken and given them so much already. A boy, who can’t remember his past, let alone even his name. A boy who all of the girls are scared will steal their hearts, and in return La Pradera will steal back the boy.

“If La Pradera could bring back a boy lost a hundred years ago, maybe it could break this curse they had carried here in their hearts. Maybe it would give them back other vanished lovers. Maybe it would lift the awful legacy from this generation of daughters.”

You guys, this book was nothing short of magnificent. I see reviewers that say this book was slow, but I was teleported and completely captivated from page one. Not only is the writing lush, and lyrical, and whimsical on every single page, but the messages and discussions are important, moving, and life changing. This book is so queer, so brown, and so magical.

“That was the dangerous thing. Not that she and her cousins all spoke the language of loving boys and girls, but that they all shared the legacy of losing them.”

This book heavily talks about immigration and the way we treated, and still treat, immigrants. The unfair work conditions, the prejudices, the blatant racism, the inhumane treatment, the cultural erasure, and how people (even in 2017) want to turn a blind eye and pretend that none of this exists. In America today, we still want to appropriate all the different cultures, but never celebrate them.

This book unapologetically talks about accepting and loving your queerness. There is such a vast array of queerness in this novel, and it is handled very well and very empathetically and there is even a genderqueer side character! This book also has the best representation I’ve ever read surrounding what it is like to be a bisexual female and to be in a relationship with a male. Some like to put levels on queerness, and this book completely abolishes that mindset and made me so very proud and my heart so very full of happiness.

“Because falling in love with a girl who feared nothing in this world had left her ready to love a boy whose heart had been broken before she ever touched him.”

This book actively talks about how your body is your body, and no one ever is owed access to it. I was actually surprised by the amount of feministic elements in this already perfect story. I mean, if I’m not singing this book’s praises loudly enough, maybe this quote will sell you:

“He was a man, and a rich one, and these together made him believe that planets and moons orbited around the single point of his desires.”

This book passionately embraces family, whether it be the blood you share with others or the found family you unconditionally love. This book truly celebrates the idea of family and heritage. The things we are willing to do and sacrifice for the ones we deem are family is something that I will never get sick of reading in books. Yet, this book also celebrates being an individual and having your own identity, separate from your family. Just like flowers, we all bloom differently and at different times.

This book powerfully discusses cultures and the discussion is constant. Probably my favorite thing about this book was seeing the characters not only embrace and accept, but also love where they came from. We could learn so much from people and cultures that are different from us, if only people could check their privilege and see the day to day oppression that people face. If only everyone could open their hearts to learn and to love, instead of to fear and to hate.

Beyond everything else, this story is a love story. It’s a ballad whose prose will make you believe in love again. Love between boys and girls, love between girls and girls, love between boys and boys, love between sisters, and cousins, and nature, and the past, and family. Wild Beauty is one of the best love stories I’ve ever read in my entire life, because it’s the true and realistic love that isn’t sugarcoated, but raw and gritty and never easy, but always worth it.

“Everyone’s broken. The only difference is how.”

Also, I don’t want to throw shade at anyone, but I have to say something, because I also read All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater this month and I really didn’t enjoy it. But I love Wild Beauty, this own voices Latinx magical realism novel, where the culture beautifully bleeds onto the pages seamlessly and unapologetically, and where I actually feel the pain and realness of colonialism. It’s a different experience and it shows, and I couldn’t write this review without mentioning it.

“They would change nothing by picking flowers.
They had to rip out their fate by the roots.”

I truly hope you guys pick this up in October. I really feel like it is a once in a lifetime story that will haunt me for years and years to come, but in the best way possible. Anna-Marie McLemore has made a fan for life. Her writing is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever read, her story has completely stolen my heart, and her messages are some that I won’t forget. Thank you, Anna-Marie McLemore, for writing one of the best things 2017 will ever produce.

Estrella and Fel have stolen my heart, and I don’t think I’ll get it back anytime soon.

“Sorrow was a family heirloom, written into their blood like ink of a will.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with my favorite: Elise! ❤

This was also in the October 2017 OwlCrate box!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,097 reviews17.7k followers
December 1, 2019
Each spring felt like all of them, not just the gardens, coming back to life. They spent winters giving their flowers to ceramic pots they kept indoors, or pulling snowdrift roses out of patches of land soft enough to grow. But now all of La Pradera was theirs. They had every acre to let out the blooms that had been waiting in their hands all winter.

I have never, never, never read anything more deeply beautiful in my life. Something about it just hit me. The characters, the love story, the writing, the atmosphere, the imagery. I don't even know how to articulate it, but I don't think it's a coincidence that the other two members of this buddyread - my faves Melanie and Destiny - both loved this as well. And that this book ended up being my literal favorite book of 2017. This book is worth so much.

Wild Beauty follows a family of women who lose everyone they fall in love with. While they live in a gorgeously decorated set of gardens, the Nomeolvides women are incapable of leaving, and under control by a family called the Briars.

Estrella - One of the youngest of the sisters, and the protagonist. And my icon in every way possible. Her story is one of personal agency and self-hate. Her starflowers appear when she sleeps, unwelcome, unlike those of the rest of the family, and I loved how McLemore balanced this. I literally adore her and I connect to her self-hatred so much. Also, I ship her and Fel so hard.
Fel - Fel's story is, again, one of agency. I won't spoil his exact character arc, but I really appreciated that he's SoftTM and loves Estrella's boldness.
Dalia - I just really appreciated her, as a side character. Again, no spoilers! But the narrative around recognizing those you love as people was so powerful.
Bay - a genderqueer icon! She was just absolutely lovely. I love her narrative about being an outcast and having to find herself.

All these characters are so well-written and easy to connect with, which is something I think is hard to achieve in magical realism novels. All this beautiful imagery and lovely prose can easily be used to cover up a situation in which not much is happening, but that's not the case with this novel. The prose is beautiful, but the story itself is just as important.
For months, Bay had been choking. Her flourishes had grown stiff, her smiles more nerves than charm. But with every meal in the Nomeolvides women’s stone house, with every plate of mole poblano, Bay sat up a little straighter.

This is an interesting book because it's not explicitly about racism or about the oppression of queer people. But those themes are there, woven throughout every aspect of the book. It's such a quintessential queer fairy tale, and I adored it. So, so much.
They had pretended they were there to clean it, and because men who stood so proud in pressed slacks and wrinkled shirts were used to having brown-skinned women wait on them, he seemed not to notice.

I love that we can have books like this now: books that aren't explicit coming out narratives or Issue Books - not that those aren't important - yet still manage to fundamentally tie all of these issues in. It may not be the explicit conflict, but marginalization is at the forefront of this book and this narrative. This is a narrative marginalized people have been writing for years and years. Look at so many narratives about agency or forbidden love - A Streetcar Named Desire, even Beauty and the Beast - and you'll discover marginalized people behind the scenes, writing those narratives. But it's a narrative we have never gotten for ourselves. And it means so much to me that we finally have these.

The robbery of agency of queer women and colonized peoples is right there, right at the forefront, and this time, we get to star.

I am so grateful for how far we've come.

It's a book about generational trauma, the way in which our family's past changes us. In which our legacies hurt us, and help us, and irrevocably change us. This article said it perfectly.
Hearts that loved both boys and girls were no more reckless or easily won than any other heart. They loved who they loved. They broke how they broke. And the way it happened depended less on what was under their lovers’ clothes and more on what was wrapped inside their spirits.

(Can we talk about the fact that this quote manages to decodify bisexuality as being dependent on gender without implicating other people as shallow? Because it's lovely and I love Anna-Marie McLemore.)

This book speaks to so many different things, from environmentalism to agency, but all I can say is: you need this. It is such an important book, but it never ceases being enjoyable. And while I'll admit this took me a long time to read, I adored every minute, and the last 30% sold me completely on a new all-time favorite. I'm sure not everyone will enjoy it as much as I did - the lyrical writing isn't for everyone - but personally, this is one of the best books I've ever read.

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Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
September 26, 2017
Every other review I've seen from people I know of this book have been 5 stars but I just didn't love this book, no matter how much I wanted to. I truly love magical realism, the lyrical writing, the odd topics set in a familiar setting, everything about it just amazes me. Magical realisms are generally slow, and I'm okay with that, I read them with patience and a suspension of disbelief in mind, but this was just way too slow for me. The writing was beautiful, the characters and their family dynamics intrigued me, but it took me so long to figure out what the story was actually about. I'm so sad that I couldn't love this. I liked it, but was slightly disappointed. I think I may give her other books a try, see if they mesh with me a little bit better.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,536 reviews9,960 followers
April 29, 2018
My October Owlcrate Box! It's one of my favorite so far. I will add a link to my blog with close-ups of the things under the picture if you're interested ♥

More Pictures

Unfortunately, I didn't like it. I did love one of the author's other books but this one wasn't for me.

I'm glad plenty of people love it though. We all want to love our books.

Happy Reading!

Mel 🖤🐾🐺
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.6k followers
June 23, 2021
There are maybe 15 things I truly love in this life.

This book has four of those things, namely:
- girls
- flowers
- magic
- books with pretty covers

Twenty-six point six repeating is not bad. In fact it's kind of a small miracle.

This book is fun and nice. The writing is pretty. Maybe the relationships are a little flat or annoying, maybe the world itself is kind of nonsense, but I will read about a half-dozen bisexual cousins going to balls and doing flower magic and kissing girls and screwing men over literally any day of the week.

Seriously. Just let me know. I'll clear my schedule.

Bottom line: My first Anna-Marie McLemore and it bodes well!


oh thank god. i was scared i'd forgotten how to like books.

review to come / 4 stars

tbr review

you know me and flowery covers


reading all books with LGBTQ+ rep for pride this month!

book 1: the gravity of us
book 2: the great american whatever
book 3: wild beauty
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
425 reviews1,641 followers
May 23, 2018
4 Stars

"Everything we touch, we wreck."
"So wreck me."

Reviewing this is weird, as it's honestly some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read, and all my words feel clunky and out of place next to it. McLemore's lush prose beautifully weaves this story together.

Every description was vibrant and decadent and made me want to sink my teeth right into this setting. While I can understand why some won't enjoy how "flowery" the narrative is, I think it blends perfectly with how unapologetically feminine this book is. Our core characters are mostly women, who talk about frills in their dresses and curls in their hair and don't mince words for the boys:

"Nothing else in the world makes a man like that more afraid than five girls on their periods."

While not every character is so traditionally feminine (Bay's developing relationship with gender and perceived roles is in particular fascinating) there's something so great about how so many bask in it. YA tends to assign silly roles to openly feminine characters, but here the girls were allowed to be strong, smart, quirky and multifaceted-- while still loving pink things.

AND loving other girls! Personally I found the bisexual representation abundant and beautiful. as neither the characters or the narrative shies away from discussing gender and orientation.

At it's core, this is a story about finding yourself. From Fel emerging in a brand-new world, to Estrella developing her own individuality without guilt, to Bay's perspective of herself contrasting with how others view her. There is plot but it's primarily character driven as the characters determine who they are and who they want to be.

"Don't you ever get tired of this... Of acting like all five of us are one person?"

While the narrative is keenly aware... it also never fully went there. I still can barely distinguish the five cousins outside of Estrella, Fel's storyline turned a little vague/confusing when it had the chance to delve deep, and so much of Bay's character was merely alluded too. I wish there'd been a bit more bite under all the pretty description. It was almost there.

Gorgeous writing filled with pretty flowers, sapphic girls, and character's determining their identity. But most members of the family group don't get enough individual focus.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,745 reviews5,291 followers
November 12, 2019
"Things growing just live in us," she said.

I should have reviewed this weeks ago when I finished it, but I didn't know how. This book nestled itself so deep into my heart, and left me speechless every time I tried to put my thoughts down in words. Anna-Marie McLemore is a brilliant, beautiful artist who has painted the most lovely images, and sculpted the most precious lives, in this story.

In this family, broken hearts were passed down like lockets. And Estrella had been enough a fool to think she could refuse the one meant for her simply by not opening her hands.

The Nomeolvides women are cursed to lives of growing beautiful things outside of them, while everything beautiful inside of them is turned to dust by heartbreak and loss. The imagery of their heartache is painted so brilliantly that I spent the majority of my time reading Wild Beauty trapped somewhere between rapture and sorrow.

You see, the women have been cursed by the land that shelters them: each time a Nomeolvides woman falls in love, she will lose her to lover - either he leaves, or disappears. In the beginning of our story, all five of the youngest generation learn that they have each fallen in love with the same girl, and so, they decide that none of them can have her. Things change when a strange young man is returned from the ground for the first time, and the cousins must determine if a doomed love is worth it.

He was the chance that the raw will of La Pradera was stronger than the curse they passed down like antique lace.

Though Estrella, too, begins the story in love with the same young woman her cousins have fallen for, it's quickly evidenced that something is blooming between her and Fel, the boy she pulled from the ground. These two are so precious and wonderful together, and I just wanted to protect them from harm so badly! Their exchanges range anywhere from silly banter to the most adorable moments of endearment and intimacy, and I loved every bit of it.

Estrella had fallen in love twice. They had been different not because one was a woman and one was a boy, but because one was Bay and one was Fel.

More than anything, this book is diverse: it is beautifully queer, with lovely brown women (and men) who I can say absolutely nothing negative about. I obviously cannot speak for the racial representation as it isn't my place, but I can speak for the bisexual rep, and tell you that it moved me to shameless tears. It was one of the purest and most authentic representations of my sexuality that I have ever come across, and so much of what was said rang so true. If anyone asked me for a brilliant representation of bisexuality in fiction, I would immediately point them to the passage I pulled this quote from. <3

What shamed a girl was, in a boy, so often worth showing off.

Not only is Wild Beauty beautifully diverse, but it is also feminist as hell. There are multiple instances in which the Nomeolvides women express their frustrations at the double standards facing them, and I found myself grinning and nodding along at more than one of the comments registered against the sexist ideals forced upon women.

"Then wreck me," he said.

Not to be silly or dramatic, but this book wrecked me. It put me into the first - and worst - book hangover I've had in a long time, and as I'm writing this review, all I want to do is dive right back in and read it all over again! Anna-Marie McLemore has instantly been placed on my "auto buy" list and I can't wait to read more of her work. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Thank you to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for granting me this wonderful ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for April.
146 reviews260 followers
April 30, 2018
"There's nothing wrong with who we love, what's wrong is what's always been wrong. We're Nomeolvides girls."

This book is so beautiful and meaningful.
Profile Image for Ishmeen.
383 reviews154 followers
October 4, 2017
4.5/5 STARS!!

If I could use only one word to describe this book it would be beautiful. This tale, the characters, the writing - everything about this story was absolutely beautiful.

"Hearts that loved both boys and girls were no more reckless or easily won than any other heart. They loved who they loved. They broke how they broke. And the way it happened depended less on what was under their lovers’ clothes and more on what was wrapped inside their spirits."

This was my first time reading a book written by Anna-Marie McLemore even though I have had When The Moon Was Ours on my TBR for a long time. Thanks to Netgalley, I was offered an eARC by the publishers and finally got around to exploring Anna's writing style - I have got to say I immediately fell in love with it. I am aware that although her descriptive writing style may not be up to everyone's tastes, I would still recommend giving this story a go purely because of the amazingly crafted characters! Fans of Laini Taylor would especially enjoy her writing style in my opinion ♥️

I loved the dual POV from Estrella and FEL OMG - MY HEART GOES OUT TO THIS BOY Y'ALL!!

"She wanted to give her own breath to every part of him that hurt, every piece of him still broken or bruised or left underground."

I loved his chapters soooo much!! He was such a mystery to me and (to himself sigh) but I especially loved the romance ahhhh my fangirling heart is content :) I also loved the diversity and lgbt representation in this story - I personally haven't come across many books with bisexual representatives before but I'll definitely keep my eye out for more in the future!

I normally get bored by the information dump about history or background in novels, but for some reason I was really interested in the history of the Nomeolvides women and wasn't bored. The bond between the cousins and Fel's opinions of himself really touched my heart and it was just such a nice tale, I would say it definitely lived up to my expectations since this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year!

I have only read a few books with the themes of magical realism before but I think this genre is really growing on me! I really enjoyed the magical aspects and the fact that everything came into a full circle in the end :') If you're looking a heartwarming and mysterious tale that will hold your interest right till the end, then make sure to pick this one up ♥️
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,070 followers
January 1, 2018
before: after 2 months of agonizing wait, I’m ready to fall in love

I’m sorry, the pun was too good, I couldn’t resist

4.5 stars, RTC!

// Thanks so much to Ju for the beautiful copy!!
Profile Image for Jiana.
296 reviews824 followers
December 2, 2017
*sighs for the next 10 hours*

That was just excruciatingly slow and boring. Not even the ending or the reveals saved it for me?? Like I genuinely cannot remember a single part of the book that wasn’t slow. It was just slow from page 1 till the last damn page. I can’t deal with slow books. I’m entirely fine with books that start off slow, but when the book hits 40% and it’s still mind-numbingly slow?? Then that’s not good for me at all. I literally had to force myself to pick it up and read every single time and I refused to DNF.

I’ll be honest, the writing is beautiful, but it was so heavy and tough to read; it was way too much for me. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters either?? I literally have zero emotions towards every single one of them. I’ll admit the book had a really important and creative plot but oh well. I’m just glad I’m done with it. My struggle is over.

Buddy read with my love Em. ♥
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,838 followers
July 19, 2018
this book actually feels like reading a dream (that sounds so dramatic I know) but its genuinely has such a whimsical aura I was legit captivated from the first chapter

- The writing is so gorgeous, it was one of the elements of the story that immediately grabbed my attention
- There are so many wonderfully tragic, realistically crafted characters
- the Nomeolvides family 😭😭😭
- the fam all love each other so much I cri
- the relationships that were written were so ??!great!!?
- I felt as if they were real people in real relationships getting into real troubles that you know, big families naturally do
- F E L
- ma baby
- hes a soft, precious, innocent little boy and im gonna wrap him in a blanket from here onward
- this book lowkey reminded me of maggie stiefvater’s books and let me tell you kids, I am a FAN
- the book is so aesthetic I could crY

- I don’t have many complaints on this front, its just that if you’re not heavily INTO character driven plots this may not work for you
- bc honestly there’s not much plot
- while I did really enjoy reading about the ladies that make gardens grow from their hands or have unwanted ability of killing all their lovers, I felt like the actual story lacked substance??
- The writing is slow but it didn’t bother me much since I was hooked from the start

4 stars!

Buddy read with lil(y) blog queen
Profile Image for Jessica (Odd and Bookish).
581 reviews787 followers
February 1, 2019
I received this book for free through BookLikes’ Giveaways.

I give this book 4.5 stars which rounds up to 5.

This was such a unique read. I have never read anything quite like this before. It’s really hard to explain what this book is about, because you kind of have to read it for yourself to find out.


I loved a lot about this book. First there was all the diversity! All the main characters are Latinx. In addition there was also great LGBT rep. All 5 of the girls were bisexual and had a crush on the same girl, and the girl they had a crush on ended up being genderqueer.

I loved the writing style of the book as well. The author writes so beautifully. The atmosphere the author creates is magical. In general, I loved the Latino folktale vibe of the entire book. It was so refreshing to read a book from that perspective. I also really liked all the witch allusions. The women were often referred to as witches and that word just holds so many connotations. It really showed how feared these women were but also their strength.

This is random, but I liked how the book talked about periods. Periods are mentioned a few times and I’m glad the author mentioned them because it is a part of life and being a woman.

There was one passage that I really loved and want to share:

“As though their daughters loving men and women meant they wanted all of them in the world. There was no way to tell their mothers the truth and make them believe it, that hearts that loved boys and girls were no more reckless or easily won than any other heart. They loved who they loved. They broke how they broke. And the way it happened depended less on what was under their lovers’ clothes and more on what was wrapped inside their spirits” (242).

I thought this was so powerful and showed that love is love while also dispelling the common belief that bisexuals are promiscuous.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that it still felt like things were unresolved at the end. I had wanted a bit more than what I got.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and if you are looking for a different kind of read, then consider picking this book up.
Profile Image for Romie.
1,094 reviews1,271 followers
November 19, 2017
Can you do yourself a really huge favour and start this book now?

Even before starting this book, I knew I would love it, I just didn’t expect to fall head over heels in love with it. But then again, this book was recommended to me by someone I trust, so I should have known it wouldn’t be a common reading experience. It only took me 15 pages to know where I stood, to know this book was so much more than ink on paper.

This isn’t just a book about women growing flowers out of their hands, it’s about families — the one we’re born with and the one we make — about privileges, about immigration, about life and how it can be unfair to those deserving the entire world, but also how life can hand you small miracles and make you eternally grateful for them.

The Nomeolvides have been told their whole life that they’re cursed : they’re bound to La Pradera and make their lovers vanish by loving them too much. But one day, the garden gives them back a boy, Fel. A lost boy who forgot everything about his life and is trying to find where he stands in this new world.

I fell in love with with Estrella’s words, her strong mind, her fears, her hopes … She has a love-hate relationship with herself, she wears the guilt of her entire family on her shoulders, she doesn’t think she deserves to be loved by someone who isn’t family because it means she’ll kill this person, she doesn’t think about what she wants as real possibilities because she’s been taught not to want. The way she loves fiercely, both men and women, with all her heart, even when she knows she cannot act on her feelings.

Fel is my precious boy, the moment we met him I decided to adopt him. He’s obviously not from this century, and though he cannot remember anything about his previous life, he knows he did something, something wrong enough for God to erase his memory … He’s living with this guilt of not remembering something he did wrong. But the truth is, he’s worthy of so much love and this cruel world made him nearly forget about his worthiness.

This book has a strong political message. You can read it without noticing it, true, but it means you’re not aware of what’s wrong in this world. From the first pages, it’s there, sometimes it’s just one sentence, but one sentence is enough to send a message when it’s well done, and Anna-Marie McLemore has magic in her fingers, she knows how to do it.
This book critics the way immigrants are treated as if they’re ‘spare people’ interchangeable, not worthy of being remembered, less deserving of your attention, less worthy of being alive.
But it also critics white male privileges. Men taking power over women, treating them as objects, white men thinking they own the entire world just because of the colour of their skin. This book deals with important subjects, things that are happening nowadays, and have been happening for centuries. The message of this book is relevant and deserves to be shared.

This was a thing he’d learned: that setting his hand on a girl’s back, and that girl letting his hand stay, led to fairy rings, and ponds full of stars.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,081 followers
January 28, 2022
Yo sabía que «Belleza salvaje» me iba a gustar porque me encanta el estilo de Anna-Marie McLemore, pero no esperaba que me fuera a gustar tantísimo.

Habla de la familia Nomeolvides, compuesta por 5 primas, sus madres y abuelas, que viven en La Pradera, un lugar mítico y maravilloso repleto de jardines y estanques rebosantes de magia. Pero vivir en un lugar como ese tiene un precio, las Nomeolvides hacen desaparecer a todo aquel que aman sin poder evitarlo, y esa maldición les pesa cada vez más.
Un día, un joven es devuelto de la tierra, no recuerda su pasado y poco más que su nombre, pero las Nomeolvides están convencidas de que es alguien que sus antepasados hicieron desaparecer tan solo por haberlo querido...

¡Esta historia es tan poética, vívida y única!
Entiendo que el estilo de McLemore no es para todo el mundo pero a mi no puede gustarme más. Esa atmósfera que crea, esos personajes entre místicos y enfermizos, esa dulzura y al mismo tiempo crueldad... me fascina.
Además, en sus libros siempre se tratan temas relevantes, en este caso se habla del racismo, de que el pasado no debe definir nuestro futuro, y desde luego es una historia repleta de diversidad.

«Cuando la luna era nuestra» sigue siendo mi preferido, pero este libro hermano le va cerca. Este es la primavera como aquel era el otoño.
155 reviews260 followers
February 17, 2018
I don't really like encountering beautiful books, because as much as love them while reading them, they leave me such an awkward mess afterwards so that I'm left only with sentences like 'holyfuck, that was fucking amazing what should I do next?' or something to the same extent. So here I am, upon finishing this beautiful masterpeice, I stand in front of you with petals and dirt covered clothes, dazed expression, I say with every drop of love I can muster from the core of my rotten heart, this book was fucking gorgeous.
Profile Image for Ava.
266 reviews311 followers
May 21, 2017
What a beautiful, beautiful book.

More coherent thoughts (from a thread I wrote on Twitter), now that I've had a day to gather them:

WILD BEAUTY is pure magic. It's hard to describe in words how incredible it is. While reading, I couldn't put it down, and read it in one sitting, which rarely happens.

Anna-Marie's writing is like candy. It's simply divine, and I want to eat her words and savor them for the rest of my life. This book is filled with love, and family, and secrets, and flowers. It's stunning. You don't read it - you experience it like you're there, in the story.

The bisexual representation made my bi heart overflowing with happiness. There is just so, so much of it. I cried. I cried for the bisexual rep, and I cried for this story, because it's just too beautiful for me *not* to cry.

This book has one of the best families I've ever read about in YA. The relationships are carefully and thoroughly explored, and it's beautiful. I loved reading about the generations of Nomeolvides women, and the magic they each have.

The love story in this book is not the whole story, but it's a part of it, and I adored it. Those two characters are so dear to me now. I would read a hundred more novels about them.

WILD BEAUTY is Anna-Marie's best book yet. If you like queer magical realism with beautiful writing, you will love this book. It is a book everyone should read. My own words cannot do it justice, so you have to experience this magic for yourself when it releases in September.
Profile Image for Irene ➰.
584 reviews80 followers
April 8, 2018

“You took the truth and you made it into flowers.”

Warning: This book is a VERY slow read!
This doesn’t mean that it’s boring or less interesting than a book full packed with action.
I think that this book has a beautiful writing and a beautiful story.
It focuses mainly on the family theme and you can totally feel that family is all what these girls have.
They live with the fear of loving, if they truly love someone he/she will disappear, just like a curse.
But there’s so much more under all of this.

Things get way more complicated for the girls when a boy appears at La Pradera, Fel. Who is he and why is he there?
Everything is super slow-paced but not boring. I personally prefer a more “alive” book, but I have never read something like this before.
It was almost like a poetry, this book is super flowery, seriously it’s full of flowers descriptions and the style is so delicate.

There’s then another interesting figure her, Reid, the person who owns the whole territory.
And you really should keep an eye on him since the very beginning, trust me.
I think I made the mistake of underestimate him at the beginning but he is a very important character and brings another theme for our story that I’m not going to say otherwise the whole magic of the book vanishes, you understand all this almost near the end, so���

“Never underestimate what the ground under your feet knows, what it can do. What it can give and what it can steal.”

Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
681 reviews3,951 followers
June 7, 2019
“Love grew such strange things.”

Oh this was SO beautiful! I definitely liked it more than When the Moon Was Ours and I liked that book too. This is about five cousins who live in a garden and can create flowers out their hands, which they use to decorate the garden. Their family has lived on the lands for generations - but their family is cursed. When one of them falls in love, their lover disappears. When the five cousins realise they are all in love with the same girl, Bay, they beg the garden to save her from disappearing, which leads to the appearance of a strange boy out the earth.

Anna-Marie McLemore has such beautiful writing and it was on display here again! Magical realism is something I can't always get into but I like hers. This book also had an actual plot which When the Moon Was Ours didn't as much. I really liked the themes discussed, and how she wove together imagery and symbolism to build her themes. Finally, this book is just stunning - visually, and also throughout, because the writing is so lush and transportive.

I listened to this on audiobook which I recommend!

Extended review to come
Profile Image for Maureen.
574 reviews4,185 followers
February 25, 2018
This book was so beautiful! I had a lot of theories of what I thought would happen but none of them actually did so that was a nice surprise.

The writing of this book was absolutely GORGEOUS and the magical realism was so beautifully done. I loved following Fel and Estrella's journeys, especially watching Fel remember different things from his past.

AGH it was just really beautiful and I would definitely recommend it.

Profile Image for Diana .
54 reviews54 followers
January 19, 2022
My heart is in full bloom.

"Even in its first faint traces, love could alter a landscape. It wrote unimagined stories and made the most beautiful, forbidding places."

This book offers a dash of magical realism set in the lush gardens of La Pradera, land owned by the Briars and cultivated by generations of Nomeolvides. The Nomeolvides is a family consisting of only women and girls trapped in this place for centuries. Location and period were undisclosed. They have this supernatural ability to grow flowers with their bare hands, so they were either feared and called witches or made as a source of entertainment.

Apart from the curse of not being able to leave La Pradera, these women can also never be in or experience a long-lasting romance, for it is believed that if one of them loves a man too much, it (the land) will kill him or simply make him vanish.

"If we love them for long enough and they stay long enough, we always lose them."

Until one day, Estrella, a soft and openhearted but shameless and vicious girl from the youngest generation of the Nomeolvides, found a boy in their garden who has no single memory of his past and only has the letters 'F E L' written on his clothes. She decided to call him Fel and brought him to their house, thinking that this might be an answer to their prayers and offerings to the land. With the same thoughts, the Nomeolvides women took him in, fed him, cared for him and made him a part of their family.

Little did they know of the role this boy is going to play in their lives.

Wild Beauty revolves around family dynamics, self-identification, exploration of sexuality, different themes of love, and the beauty of youth. It also has an undertone of colonialism, immigration and exploitation of labour that becomes more audible by the end of the book and as the mystery of Fel's appearance was revealed slowly.

Not only am I in love with its dose of diverse rep (bi, queer and poc characters) and how the author gave her own words of positivity and self-love, I also admire the flowery (both figuratively and literally) narrative that perfectly captures the feelings and visuals within the story. As if the words are inviting you to La Pradera itself.

"Everything we touch, we wreck." she said.
"Then wreck me." he said.

I especially love the writing in Fel and Estrella's small moments together. I never thought a make-out session could be so beautifully-written and affect me this much. Don't judge me lol

If only the ending wasn't too perfect and happy for my liking, and if only I got attached to these characters a tad bit more, I could have kept the one star.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,227 reviews257 followers
January 6, 2018
4.5 stars
“Even in its first faint traces, love could alter a landscape. It wrote unimagined stories and made the most beautiful, forbidding places.
Love grew such beautiful things.”

What a beautifully stunning book that is filled with all manner of flowers, family, and love. So many people have raved about this book and recommended it again and again. I am happy to say that it’s praises are well deserved and everyone should read this wonderous book. Wild Beauty follows Estrella Nomeolvides and she and the women in her family care for La Pradera estate. While the Nomeolvides have the ability to create gardens of grandeur, they hide a painful secrets: those they love disappear. One day a mysterious boy appears, and together he and Estrella discover secrets that have long been buried beneath the flowers of La Pradera.

Things I Liked
The writing in this novel is absolutely breathtaking. The words flow like magic themselves, fluid and purposeful. The descriptions are so lush and imaginative, while being grounded in emotion and honesty. It’s genuinely stunning.

All the aspects of family in this story captivated me from the very first page. I loved seeing the generations of Nomeolvides women, I loved seeing the cousins and the deep care and closeness - like they were sisters, I adored the found family that Bay and Fel find themselves a part of.

There is so much love and warmth that radiates off of this story that you are guaranteed to feel comforted and cared for. Not only do you feel it bursting from the pages, but you can clearly see the deep connection between the characters and it makes it so easy to become invested in their story. You see their heart and want to protect it.

I loved Estrella and Fel’s relationship and I was so invested. This might be because I loved them so much individually, but I loved them helping each other discover who they were and who they wanted to be.

La Pradera was an amazing setting. I feel like the settings are so vital to magical realism stories - they always have more of an impact. La Pradera truly became a character on its own, with a consciousness that demanded justice and retribution. It was powerful to see the land itself honor those that history had forgot. I am not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two.

“There were two kinds of Nomeolvides hearts, ones broken by the vanishings, and ones who counted themselves lucky to have seen the backs of their livers as they left.”

“The world outside these gardens held two kinds of death, the vengeance of La Pradera, and the knives of a world that did not want them.”

“There was a magic to things that were familiar and ordinary. The way they were known was a kind of enchantment, and when they were gone, the spell broke.”

Things I Didn’t Like
I didn’t really connect with Bay at all and I was really sad about it because everyone loved her and I wanted to too. I felt like for the first 100 pages or so, Bay was more of an idea than she was a person. It was all about her in relation to one of the Nomeolvides’ and I didn’t connect with her personally. This does get addressed and that made me happy, but we don’t really get to see her again until near the end of the story, and it was a little too late for me. (But I did really love her relationships with the Nomeolvides girls)

There were a few instances where the story got a bit repetitive for me. I understand that there’s an expected whimsy and reiteration present in magical realism, but I noticed a single sentence repeated at least three times across two pages. This was a very minor issue that I honestly didn’t really have a problem with, but it was noticeable a time or two.

I really think everyone should read this book - it’s so lyrical and moving you’re guaranteed to be captivated. Wild Beauty threads a tale of loss, family, and love together in away that will move you to tears and then heal your heart.
Profile Image for Aentee.
136 reviews435 followers
October 28, 2017

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wild Beauty, like all of Anna-Marie’s Mclemore’s previous books, is filled to the brim with enchantment and beauty. The story contains all of the elements of a fairy tale: forbidden love, a family curse, an enchanted garden – mixed in with heartfelt exploration of sexuality, gender, and socioeconomic divide. Wild Beauty is a tale to be savoured, especially on warm spring days where fresh blooms are in sight and life is brimming with unexplored potential.

The Nomeovildes women have inhabited La Pradera for more than a century, locked to the place by a dark legacy. With the Nomeovildes’s natural gift, La Pradera flourishes with lush vegetation and fragrant blooms – but should any of the women try to leave La Pradera, they succumb to an agonising end. Even more tragic is a powerful curse which erases any person the Nomeovildes women loves too deeply. They’re not only physically trapped by this otherworldly garden, it also emotionally separates them from the rest of the world. In Wild Beauty, we watch as the youngest generation of Nomeovildes women traverse their savage inheritance.

Wild Beauty is written in Anna-Marie Mclemore’s signature whimsical yet intimate style. I’m continually floored by how she manages to blend magic with heart-rending realism. Although magical realism is a subgenre I absolutely adore, at times I find it difficult to relate to the characters within these stories. This is never the case with Anna-Marie’s books, especially in Wild Beauty. All five of the Nomeovildes ladies have noteworthy characterisation, despite the relatively short length of the novel. Fel and Estrella’s narrative voices are distinctive, yet both manages to retain a lyrical cadence that I found arresting.

Aside from the visual wonders in Wild Beauty, the book is also rich in representation. All five of the Nomeovildes girls are initially in love with Bay, a genderqueer character. The novel portrays the fluidity of sexuality, and throughout the course of the book we witness many different kinds of love. Without giving too much away, Fel’s character arc was also an excellent commentary on race and class. Wild Beauty is brimming with hope and warmth, despite the dark and oppressive atmosphere of its setting.

Speaking of La Pradera, I don’t think any review of Wild Beauty could be complete without mentioning its haunting setting. To the Nomeovildes, La Pradera is a garden, a refuge, a home, but it is also a prison. The land thrives under their ministration and grow rich in beauty, but it also guards these women jealously – crushing them down whenever they attempt to leave. Within the gardens, the reader will find blooms of every kind, moonlit spring nights, and dozens of mementos from generations of hopeful Nomeovildes girls. The complex relationship between the family and their land is one of the central focus of the novel, and I found the resolution absolutely satisfying.

As a lover of slow-burn romance, I was completely drawn in by the romantic entanglements in Wild Beauty. It felt forbidden yet inevitable, and I loved that it began as a tentative friendship and built upon a foundation of trust.

This is a book I can see myself revisiting time and again. I highly recommend this, along with Anna-Marie’s entire backlist, to everyone who wants to lose themselves in the magic of stories.
Profile Image for Brooke — brooklynnnnereads.
1,035 reviews248 followers
August 17, 2017
Guiltily, I must admit that I was initially really drawn to this book by the cover. It's beautiful! After reading this novel though, all I can say is that it's a perfect fit because the story is equally as beautiful and the cover is a perfect representation of the content inside.

I'm going to be kind of vague with my review because I think this book is a good one to go into blind without knowing much about it. That's how I went into reading this and it made the story even more of a magical read.

This book was unlike anything that I've read before and I LOVED that. Everything about the storyline and the fantastical elements was incredibly unique. I would describe this book as magical and mysterious. There is an air of mystery throughout which keeps you in suspense until the very end when everything comes full circle.

Also, the descriptions and details in this novel are unreal. The style of the author's writing felt truly visual in that I felt that I could actually visualize everything whether it be a character with their unique physical traits or the setting (La Pradera...man, what a beauty to imagine).

My favourite component and what I felt was the most important about this novel was the diversity. This novel was full of diverse characters with each individual's sexuality, race, and background. All of this was written respectfully and was incredibly well done.

I really enjoyed this novel and will be looking out for more written by this author in the future. I definitely suggest to pick this one up on October 3 when it hits the shelves!

**Thank you to Raincoast Books for supplying me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review**
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