{Leah Reviews} When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Posted September 6, 2016 by Leah in Reviews / 10 Comments

{Leah Reviews} When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was Ours

by Anna-Marie McLemore
Pages: 288
Published on October 4th 2016
by Thomas Dunne
Genres: LGBT, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Also by this author: The Weight of Feathers

When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.
But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

3.5 Stars


I met Anna-Marie at a book signing for her debut, The Weight of Feathers. She mentioned the title of her upcoming book, When the Moon Was Ours, and from that title alone, I made it a point to read it.

When The Moon Was Ours reads like a fairy tale told at the start of autumn, when everything takes place. Autumn is my favorite time of year and the way Anna-Marie describes its arrival is breathtaking. This is a world where you can believe magic is hiding in a pumpkin field and under a river. The moon plays an important part in the story, from its phases to its surface.

Miel is blessed or cursed with roses that bloom from her wrist. Sam was born a girl but raised as a boy, and he’s trying to find his place and identity. They meet as children, grow up together, fall in love. They each have flaws and secrets, things the four Bonner sisters, whose parents Sam works for, use for their own advantages. This brings more secrets to light from each person, threatening everyone’s well being. I cared about Miel and Sam. Their conflicts made me sad and angry, especially the Bonner sisters’ bullying of Miel.

I loved the diversity represented in the book. Miel and her guardian Aracely are Latina. Sam and his mother are Pakistani; Sam is transgender. There are people of different sexual orientations and cultural backgrounds. Seeing the way writers craft stories featuring characters or cultures hardly or at all mentioned is one of the reasons YA is starting to become more exciting. As an aspiring author, it feels great to see so many different stories being told, and so many others waiting to be told.

As much as I liked the writing style, there were times it took me out of the story. I had to go back and re-read some things a few times so I could absorb their meaning. Because of this, it took me a little longer to really get into the story, but once I did, it was a fantastic one. I am also very curious about seeing more of the Bonner sisters–I feel like a whole book could be written about them.

When The Moon Was Ours shines with its standout plot and characters. You’ll never look at the moon the same way again.

Moon swing

**Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.**



About Anna-Marie McLemore

I’m Anna-Marie. I’m a Mexican-American author represented by the fabulous Taylor Martindale of Full Circle Literary. My debut novel, THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS,a 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist, is out now from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. My second novel,WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, will be released in October 2016, and WILD BEAUTY is coming in 2017.

My shorter work has been featured in The Portland Review, CRATE Literary Magazine’s “cratelit,” Camera Obscura’s Bridge the Gap Gallery, and by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. I was a 2011 Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction (you can find my reading here). I live in Northern California with a boy from the other side of the Rockies.



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