Review: When The Moon Was Ours – Anna-Marie McLemore

When The Moon Was Ours
Book cover: Miel and Sam are at the water tower. On the top of the book moons are hanging down.

When The Moon Was Ours is one of the most-mentioned magical realism books and I’d been meaning to read it for a long time. What really won me over was the beautiful cover and mention of roses growing out of a girl’s body.

Miel has roses growing out of her wrist and Sam paints moon which shine on their own. Both different to the others in the town, and best friends. The Bonner Girls, four sisters, decide they need Miel’s roses and they are willing to do anything to get them.

This book is #ownvoices in Latinx rep.

Let me gather my thoughts.

This book is so difficult to review because the writing was way too lovely. I feel like I am doing it injustice. Just alone the title summarises the beauty of the writing in this book. It’s flowery, mystical and secretive. It may be a minor detail to some readers, but I was intrigued by the chapter titles as they were written in small letters. This led me to analying the chapters a lot more and I kept thinking about why they were written in small letters.

I enjoyed the detail in the descriptions of the roses and the pumpkins. I certainly learnt a lot more about pumpkins! The different types of roses and pumpkins illustrated the different stages in the story. I could spend an entire afternoon analysing the symbolism of the descriptions. There were so many possible meanings!

The characters – wow – the characters were amazingly written and the mysteries surrounding them came to light in unexcepted ways. The use of symbolism and metaphors to describe the characters and their relationships to each other was beautiful. I thought that the Bonner Girls were fascinating and I wanted to understand them on a deeper level, which was acheived at the end of the book. Aracely was another character that I found intriguing – she was so mysterious but yet down to earth and always there to help other people, no matter how they felt about her. It’s a story about accepting your identity and being happy about who you are, and while we see this most in the two main characters, I thought that at the end of the book, several of the minor characters had also acheived this level.

Due to it being a diverse book, there were several characters with marginalisations. Miel and most of the townfolk are Latinx, whereas Sam and his mother are from Pakistan. Sam is transgender. Not only did the main characters have marginalisations but some of the minor and also very minor characters were marginalised as well.

Here are some #ownvoices reviews for the trans representation: Kuzu’s review, Avery’s review and Cheryl Morgan’s review.

It’s inspired by the story of La Llorana, a weeping woman that drowns her children in a river. I hadn’t heard about this before, so I was very happy to have learnt something new while reading the book.

I did find it rather weird how fast Chloe Bonner’s hair grew – however this could be explained through the magical realism.

When The Moon Was Ours was a delightful read and I think you will enjoy it. It has a beautiful love story in it and the writing is so beautiful.

Will I be reading Anna-Marie McLemore again? Yes! For sure. Especially when I feel like sinking in to a beautiful written dream.

5 stars

Have you read When The Moon Was Ours? Do you have any magical realism stories that you would recommend?

25 thoughts on “Review: When The Moon Was Ours – Anna-Marie McLemore

  1. Oh, I love this book! It’s probably the most diverse book I’ve ever read and the writing is indescribably beautiful. I’m so glad you loved it! One of my other favorite magical realism books is “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” if you haven’t read it.


  2. One day, one day! It’s been on my wishlist for forever, but I never get around to order it. I think the author has a new book out soon-ish, doesn’t she? Are you planning on reading that one as well?


    1. Yes, it sounds fascinating. I’m very interested in the premise, an island with only women. However, I’m even more interested in her book after that: Blanca and Roja. Snow White and Rose Red meets Swan Lake in magical realism, I love retellings and both of these stories are stories I grew up with.


  3. For some reason I’ve been stuck on this book for a couple of months… I absolutely loved it whilst I was actively reading it, but I just can’t bring myself to finish it! Very odd.


  4. I’ve seen this one around and the buzz has been very positive. Might I ask – with the roses growing from her wrist, are there any images of bleeding wrists, the thorns scratching her wrists, or her wrist being cut? I’ve wanted to read this for a while but bloody wrists are a huge trigger for me.


  5. Such a beautiful review, thank you for writing this. I have this book on my TBR, it has been there for a while and I’m really hoping to get around to reading it soon. I’m even more impatient now 🙂


  6. Oooh, everybody loves this book! (And I’m glad about that, because it sounds like a great story, haha.) I won a copy in January and finally started reading it today. I like your comment about chapter titles and how they they led you to think more about the chapters. I like to notice titles when reading but always forget about them as soon as I finish a book.


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