Ever since the moment that Sam first reached out to Miel, the two of them have been inseparable. Miel, a girl who spilled out of a water tower when she was five, has perpetually damp dress hems, roses growing out of her wrist and a past that she tries to forget. Sam, a boy who the town knows very little about prior to his arrival in town with his mother, is best recognized for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees. Both are odd, but neither is as mysterious as the Bonner girls, the four sisters who are said to be witches. When they decide they need the roses from Miel's skin, they threaten to reveal secrets... secrets that will shake up Miel and Sam's entire world.
I finished reading When the Moon Was Ours yesterday, and I still feel like any words that I will come up with to describe it here will be inadequate. It was beautiful. It was magical. It was powerful. It was everything I'd hoped that this sophomore release from Anna-Marie McLemore would be, and more, and I'm so incredibly glad that I read it and that it is out in the world tomorrow for the rest of you to read.
It takes the story of two individuals who are coming to terms with who they are, what they've been through and what they want for the future. Sam is at the point in his life where he has to make a choice about who he is; Miel is forced to confront the terrible past that she'd rather forget. Both are trying to protect themselves and the people they love, which is how they find themselves driven deeper into conflict and confusion. The plot is truly that simple when you break it down, but it is McLemore's use of magic and metaphor - the roses, the pumpkins, the moons - truly adds something special to the story.
It did take me some time to wrap my head around the story, but I think that's mostly because I don't read a ton of magical realism (though I will happily read any in the future from McLemore after loving both of her novels). But when things finally clicked into place, I found myself eager to keep turning the pages and to find out how this story - the story of Miel, the story of Sam, the story of Miel & Sam - would end. Gorgeously written, emotionally resonant, incredibly whimsical, and so so brave and honest - I absolutely loved When the Moon Was Ours, and would truly recommend reading it.
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Thomas Dunne | Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Source: ARC downloaded from NetGalley (Thanks!)