REVIEW: When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Everything about this book was beautiful.
It is a magical realism story about Miel, who is Latina, and Samir, an Italian-Pakistani trans boy, who have been best friends since Miel came out of the water tower. It is ethereal. It is poetic, whimsical, soft, kind and full of important messages. The writing is absolutely gorgeous.
I am extremely impressed with how McLemore talked about difficult topics in a way that was so fitting for this book it didn't feel like it didn't belong, full of magic and beauty - but not in a way that made it any less real, any less important. It is not a long book, but from dedication to author's note, every word has earned its place, every word is worth your time. It talks about racism, about gender, about family, secrets, relationships and being true to yourself whilst leaving space for you to grow, to change.
It's filled with stories, Spanish, legends, full of other cultures and people you wished you knew.
The book is almost purely character driven, with relationships that are equally beautiful as they are complex. It is diverse in the way diverse should be, not to spice up a novel, not one 'other' character to grant the title 'diverse', no, it is full of real characters who all have their story to tell, their own identities, lives, skin colours, genders, families and struggles.
Because of the magical realism, it is sometimes hard to understand. What is actually happening, and what is metaphorical? It makes reading this a strange experience, as if you will never fully understand it. It didn't take me long to get into it, but sometimes it surprised me. Suddenly there was talk about maths homework, whilst I had long forgotten the realism of magical realism.
I haven't read much books in this genre, but after this, I will definitely pick up some others, and I'm looking forward to Wild Beauty
It's one of those books you read and continue to wonder why it doesn't have the recognition it deserves.
I know this style, this genre is not for everyone. But if you have questions, if you are curious about people born in a body they don't feel is right for them, if you would like to learn, if you want to understand more, if you want to feel like you are not alone, read this book. Get immersed in it. Read it, think about it, and then read it again. I hope it will help you understand, and that it will touch you like it touched me.