when the moon was ours – anna-marie mclemore | review

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Published October 4th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism, Lgbtqia+, Romance
Rep: trans MC, POC (Latinx, Pakistani)


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


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.


trigger and content warnings:
  • transphobia, attempted suicide, physical assault, child abuse

when the moon was ours is about being truthful to oneself and the people around, about hiding and fearing for the worst, about not living one’s own truth and the secrets waiting to burst from within oneself.

initially, i thought it was quite hard to relate to the characters because of the writing style and since it’s magical realism, which made the story feel very distant and out of reach. but as the story progresses into their struggles and despite the flowery writing style, it was easy to empathise with the characters’s difficulties. the two main characters love each other. that was very obvious. but i wished that the situation would let them love fearlessly and openly too.

“She wanted you to have the life you wanted,” Aracely said. “So figure out what kind of life you want.”

though miel has a unique ability, she has no idea of its origin. discovering the underlying mystery of her magic roses was interesting. i wanted more exploration of its properties though. sam was really sweet the whole time. i want a boy who would hang moons for me around my house so that i won’t be afraid too. their interactions were cute and heartwarming. individually, they have their own fears and guilts to overcome.

the bonner girls was a suspicious bunch. throughout the book i could never decipher what their motives were. what we know is that they want the roses that grows on miel’s skin. on the other hand, a side character i liked was aracely. alongside the bonner girls and miel, aracely was labeled as a witch because she could remove lovesickness from a person. she’s a mystery too, there wasn’t much to know about her at first except that she took in miel the day they found her in that rusted water tower.

He was a world unmapped, a planet of valleys and vapour seas no one but he had a right to name. If he let her, she would learn the bays and oceans of him. She would know him as well as he knew the maria in the moon atlases.

honestly, magical realism can sometimes be difficult for me to absorb and relate to. however, anna-marie mclemore had kept me entertained throughout the entire story. somehow, i’d always become invested in the characters’ happiness and life, and it was the same in when the moon was ours. they always write endearing and lovable characters who are scarred and has secrets.

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4 thoughts on “when the moon was ours – anna-marie mclemore | review”

  1. this sounds like SUCH an amazing book!! i haven’t read any books by anna marie mclemore before, but this one sounds like an amazing one to start with, especially since so many others love her writing!! i can’t wait to read this sometime soon!! lovely review, belle!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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