Hey look it’s my first book review! I’m super excited to start, so without further ado, I present to you my review of When the Moon Was Ours.
Title: When the Moon Was Ours
Author: Anna Marie McLemore
Publication Date: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, magical realism
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Not sure what this means? Learn more about my rating system here.
Let’s start with what I liked, shall we?
First off, the writing in this book is just beautiful. DAZZLING. EXQUISITE. Speaking of exquisite things…the book’s cover? Um, anyway. It’s very well-written! When the Moon Was Ours is filled to the brim with gorgeous metaphors and descriptive language. The first thing you see when you open the book (aside from the copyrights and all that boring stuff nobody reads) is the dedication, which is a work of art in and of itself:
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 spaces in between.
I wish for you every light in the sky.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book that show how good Anna-Marie McLemore is with words:
Her voice was afternoon gathered in the folds of sheer curtains” (112).
Each word came out sharp and clipped, like yelling pressed down to keep it quiet” (116).
McLemore’s writing is so artistic and lyrical…not quite poetry, but definitely poetic. And the way the book is written makes it feel like you are listening to someone tell a story.
The descriptive language makes you feel like you’re living inside the story. I especially loved reading the descriptions of a) the colors, and b) the foods and spices! Mmm, food.
McLemore really rocks the magical realism genre. Her writing style is a perfect fit—everything is so whimsical and storybook-esque. I love the world the characters live in, with its glass pumpkins and magical roses.
The characters are also really great! They are three-dimensional, complex, and interesting to read about. Also, they’re super diverse!
Miel, one of the main characters, is a Latinx girl with roses growing out of her wrists and a troubled past. I just loved seeing Miel’s character develop throughout the book!
Sam, the other mc, is an Italian-Pakistani trans boy, and no one in his small town knows that he was born with the name Samira. I loved reading about Sam, and I think that it would benefit a lot of teens to step into his shoes.
There is so much diversity in this book, with Latinx, Pakistani, and transgender rep. It seems like McLemore really did her research, and the little tidbits of Latinx and Pakistani cultures flowed seamlessly throughout the story. A+ for diversity!
Samira. The name sounded less like a thing that had once belonged to Sam than the name of some specter, a spirit that might come and take him if Miel did not keep it away. It was the name of a girl who had not died because she had never quite lived” (109).
Miel and Sam’s friendship/relationship was so cute. They know basically everything about each other, and they have the kind of friendship that every real-life person wishes for.
They were so strange that only someone as odd as the other could get so close” (123).
While I loved both Miel and Sam, my favorite character was probably Aracely, the woman who has taken care of Miel since she was five. She’s strong and complex and mysterious. I also enjoyed the Bonner girls, the antagonists. These four sisters are described as one being in four bodies, yet each of the sisters is unique in some way.
Despite all that good stuff, I just found it really hard to make it through the book. There were times that I didn’t feel like finishing it. Maybe the plot felt slow because there wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue? And there were some parts that were just confusing—I found myself rereading sentences or paragraphs because they didn’t make sense at first.
All in all, I gave this book 3 stars because the plot felt slow and it was hard to get through, which made it less of an enjoyable read.
- the writing is beautiful
- characters are on point
- lots of diversity
- it was confusing
- and slow
If you’re someone who’s fine with a slower book, you’ll like When the Moon Was Ours. If not, you may find yourself getting a wee bit bored like I did.
Have you read When the Moon Was Ours? What did you think of it? Do you have any other diverse book recs? Let’s chat in the comments!