REVIEW // When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon

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Title: When the Moon Was Ours
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, LGBT
Edition: Kindle (288 pages)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (Oct. 4, 2016)
Date Read: 2/18/2017

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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.


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This is one of those books that you anticipate for a really long time because you’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it. And it’s also one of those highly anticipated books that live up to your expectations, thankfully. Well… it lived up to mine, anyway!

Miel is our main character, and as you can see from the synopsis, she can magically grow roses from her wrist. Beautiful, fragrant roses. But not everyone sees the roses as something beautiful. Sam, though… our other main character, and Miel’s best friend, has no problem with the roses growing from Miel’s wrist. They have a close bond with each other, unlike anything they’ve ever had with anyone else, and I absolutely adored this relationship between them. They were the perfect match for one another. I felt I could relate more to Sam’s personality than Miel’s, but I still loved Miel just the same.

“Giving someone else a little of who they were hurt more than giving up none or all of it.”

Although we have these perfect (to me) characters, we also have the Bonner sisters, who are perfect in everyone else’s eyes… but are in no way perfect on the inside. They are mean, cold hearted, and just down right cruel. I didn’t like them as people, but I did enjoy them as characters, if that makes sense. I like stories that have all different types of characters and personalities… that’s what makes it fun! And that’s exactly what I got with When the Moon Was Ours. All of the characters worked so well together to create a great, interesting story.

When the Moon Was Ours is magical realism at its finest. A perfect example of non-fantasy having magical elements, and I really loved that about this book. It gave the story life, as if it was living and breathing like you and I. And I was pulled right into this world McLemore had created.

“Someday, Sam and Miel would be nothing but a fairytale.”

The one thing that bothered me about this standalone novel, was the writing in the beginning. It was almost as if the author was attempting to be nonchalantly poetic, but it ended up being more confusing than anything. It took me a minute to wrap my head around the writing, but once I did, I was hooked. And that’s all there is to it!

Labeled as LGBTQ+, I knew I wanted to read this book, even though I was totally unaware of the reason behind the label. Well, come to find out… all the readers whose reviews I read on this novel did a very (and I mean, VERY) good job at not spilling the beans! (Thank you, non-spoilery reviews!) The twist was fantastic and totally unexpected! The LGBTQ+ representation was done very well, and I applaud McLemore on this aspect of the story. Kudos, kudos, and more kudos!

A bit odd and different (in a good way!), When the Moon Was Ours is a really, really good story that a reader can learn a lot from. If you haven’t read it yet, you really need to. It’s one of those stories that just NEEDS to be read. As much as I wanted to give the book five stars, it just didn’t reach that point for me, due to my issues with the writing in the beginning. But it absolutely is worth the four stars I gave it… and it could be worth more to you! Why don’t you read it and find out?!

Rating: untitled-design-13

Goodreads Review

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44 thoughts on “REVIEW // When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

    1. Yay!! I knew it would be a five star read for a lot of people (it almost was for me… so, so close!) but yeah… I wasn’t used to that kind of writing at first but once I got used to it, it became beautiful because I was beginning to understand it. Ya know? Or am I just rambling and not making any sense? Because that’s what it feels like. Ha!! Anyways, thank you so much! And of course, I’m happy to hear you loved it. I had been wanting to read it, and I’m so glad I finally did.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure that I have come across writing like this before… but it’s been a while. I’ve been reading too much YA lately that just has simple writing, ya know? I need to move away from the simple YA for a bit. Lol.

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  1. Oh goodness Megan! yes! “The one thing that bothered me about this standalone novel, was the writing in the beginning. It was almost as if the author was attempting to be nonchalantly poetic, but it ended up being more confusing than anything.” I couldn’t agree more! It legit took me til’ the halfway point to start getting int o the story & I LOVE Magical Realism. This was such a beautiful book but def a bit confusing in the beginning. GREAT review! glad you enjoyed this one 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you understand what I mean and where I’m coming from with that!! It really is such a beautiful book, and I’m glad I finally got a chance to read it (like everyone should!). Once I began understanding the writing, I found it to be really awesome. And I just loved Sam so, so much!!! Thanks, Lilly! 🖤❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course Megan, it’s def not an easy book. I read it on a day off & powered through the first half. Loved the imagery but it threw me off. I’m so glad we stuck with it though, because it’s a great story. Yes! Sam 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Megan, and I’m really glad to see this book lived up to your expectations as well. I read When the Moon Was Ours last year and I’ve definitely been one of the people raving about it because it’s an all-time favourite of mine. Miel and Sam’s relationship was beautiful, and I get what you mean about the Bonner sisters as well. I liked them as characters more than I liked them as people but the end scene with them all kind of made me see them in a bit of a different light if that makes sense.
    Again great review, do you plan on reading Anna-Marie McLemore’s other book, if you haven’t already? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was nice that she added that scene to give the Bonner sister’s more depth and make them seem more human in their own way as well.
        Yeah I read it, I didn’t think it was as good as this one but it was still an amazing book in my opinion! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I need to read this book already! I’ve been putting it off since last year and have had so many people recommend it to me since then, along with reading a ton of reviews. I think mainly because I’ve yet to dive into the magical realism genre and though I’m sure I’ll like it I’m also a little worried that I might not. Either way, this is definitely one book I’ll be getting to sometime this year. I’m really glad you ended up enjoying it. Great review, Megan!! 😊💕

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oooo bravo Megan! I didn’t really have this book on my radar before now, but you have convinced me that I need to change that. I totally get what you mean about the author being nonchalantly poetic but it just felt odd… I felt the EXACT same way about The Girls by Emma Cline…

    Liked by 1 person

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