Review Detail

4.8 2
Young Adult Fiction 1042
Overall rating
Writing Style
"When the Moon was Ours" is a hauntingly beautiful and lyrical masterpiece. McLemore is an incredible storyteller. The words do more than convey the story, but carry another world and emotions with every sentence. The book begins with a local folktale about Moon and Honey, a surprising but frightened young girl and the boy who saves her from her fear, giving her the moon. We learn that they are Sam and Miel, children who fit with each other, even if not society at large.

Miel was drowned by her mother out of love to prevent her presumed destructive future (hints of the La Llorona folklore). Miel grows roses out of her arms. She comes from a magical family where this is a curse. In the process, Miel breaks free from her mother, and her brother and mother follow her into the water and also drown. Miel is suspended in the water tower, until it is released and she comes back to life, alone and confused. Sam is the one who rushes to protect her. Sam is carrying his own secret- he is a bacha posh, who later realizes he is transgendered. Miel understands without explanations or fear. The way this is presented is incredible and beautiful, allowing the reader to have the same understandings.

Sam and Miel have a beautiful relationship as best friends and lovers, which is threatened by the Bonner sisters with hair the color of flames who carry their own secrets and seem to be witches of a type. The Bonner sisters want Miel's roses at any cost and threaten Sam to get them from her. As bullies, the Bonner sisters are terrifying- their punishment to Miel is to lock her in a glass coffin and leave her there, hungry and barely able to breathe. However, they carry their own secrets and burdens, which are in a figurative sense the glass coffin. This can only be broken by the courageous announcement and acceptance of the truth of the way things are.

The story is poetic, imaginative, and captivating. I imagine this book to easily become a classic and is, to me, an important read in how we treat people (some hints of racism and fear of the "other") and the fears/secrets we keep which weigh us down. It is also a poignant romance. I was incredibly moved by the story and writing- this is a book I shall never forget.

Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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