When the Moon Was Ours

When the Moon Was Ours

Book - 2016
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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 wrists, 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."
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 2016
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781250058669
Branch Call Number: Y FANT McLemore A
Characteristics: viii, 273 pages ; 22 cm


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Greene_Teens Jun 12, 2019

Miel, who grows roses out of her wrist, and Sam, whose background is a complete mystery, are best friends, even if everyone else thinks they're odd. When the Bonner sisters decide they want Miel's roses, they'll stop at nothing to get them.

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Barrie_Teen_Lists Mar 24, 2021


“To the boys who get called girls,the girls who get called boys, and those who live outside these words. To those called names and those searching for names of their own. To those who live on the edges, and in the spaces in between. I wish for you every light in the sky.”

When the Moon Was Ours is an example of how every one of Anna-Marie McLemore’s works is not just a fairytale, but the perfect little ode to different types of love.

The novel follows Miel and Sam, who have been inseparable friends from the time they were little, when Miel supposedly fell out of a water tower at age five and appeared within their town, and have been known for the moons Sam paints and hangs in trees and houses and the roses that grow out of Miel’s wrist, and therefore are considered oddities within the town. Though within their town is the four Bonner sisters, who are rumoured to be witches and are after the roses that grow out of Miel’s wrist, as they have heard that with the scent of them they can make anyone fall in love with said person with the rose, and are willing to cross any lines in order to get their hands on these roses, even revealing Miel’s secrets. Along with that, the novel follows as Sam comes to terms with his gender identity.

Personally, I would recommend this book looking for a book that has people like them as they usually do not, or people looking for a good, flowery tale that isn’t a child’s story. The book reads much like a fairytale that you have grown into now that you are older and understand more, but also a fairytale for those who weren’t always written fairytales about, or they were not shared. Anna-Marie McLemore does a wonderful job of entailing the relationship between Miel and Sam, and how deeply they trust each other and their romantic feelings for one another stemming from their deep friendship with each other and not thinking each other as oddities. It also does a wonderful job to show Miel being supportive of Sam, as he questions himself, and a wonderful work of Sam exploring himself and his feelings more as many books do not do, and the YA genre could sorely use more of.

Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing style flows seamlessly with the magical atmosphere of the novel, and makes every word on the page easy to read and understand as the reader reads about the lives of Miel and Sam and their run in with the Bonner sisters, along with keeping a fair pace, to let the characters grow and have us learn about themselves along with them, giving us time to be happy .

In all, When the Moon Was Ours is a beautiful, flowery tale for anyone looking for a soft, easy book to read with lovable, relatable characters and a beautiful, magical setting while still being set within the real world.

Sep 05, 2019

This was amazing.

May 26, 2019

This story is a great story about a transgender teen set in a magical realism world. At the core of this story are our protagonists are Sam - a Italian/Pakisatani Transgender young man and Miel, a queer Latina young woman. The major theme in this book is self-acceptance, acceptance for who you like, and acceptance for who you are. It is a beautiful book.

Jul 28, 2017

It's an absolutely beautiful story with a touch of a fairy tale. A story of acceptance, love, friendship, secrets, lies and letting go. The author has such a way with words that brings the story to life. It's full of wonderful colors and scents. It makes you feel everything, happiness, sadness, anger, pain, fear and heartaches.

ArapahoeTeenBoard Jul 17, 2017

This book is a magical realism novel and is wonderful in how fantastical it is. The wondrous aspects of this book such as the roses growing from Miel's wrists and the ability of the Bonner girls to make anyone fall in love with them creates a compelling story to get lured into. Some of these magical elements are also delightfully creepy without having to resort to gore. The relationship between Miel and Sam is sweet and endearing but also complicated in their need to protect one another from their circumstances. Miel's caretaker Aracely is a mysterious character and I was pleased by the revelation of her backstory. The book is also good if you want a diverse cast of characters such as Sam who is transgender as well as Miel and Aracely who are latina. Another characteristic that makes this book stand out is McLemore's beautiful and enchanting prose which makes the magical nature of this book feel possible without taking away from the wonder.

lindsay_r May 29, 2017

This novel is a beautifully written fairy tale with very interesting, well-rounded characters. The love story is sweet, and the novel seamlessly blends mythology, magic, and issues of gender and culture (a great example of diversity done well in YA).

ArapahoeLesley Apr 11, 2017

This book is undoubtedly beautiful with symbolism galore. The authors use of color and nature was enchanting and the story of secrets and lies and growth consisting of multicultural and LGBTQ characters was a very personal one for the author and led me to respect this book very much.

I loved everything about this book. Anna-Marie McLemore's writing would fit in with Jeffrey Eugenides or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but also has a style that's completely unique. There isn't a single character in this book I wasn't attached too. Sam and Miel and Aracely and even the (really creepy and wonderfully written) Bonner sisters. This lush fairy tale is a bit of a slow burn, but patient readers who love magic and romance will be hugely rewarded at the end. If I were the king of the American Library Association, this book would have won every single award. Even the ones it doesn't qualify for. It's just that good. I cant wait for more books by this amazing author.

Nov 14, 2016

I admit, I haven't read Anna-Marie McLemore's award winning debut, but when I got When the Moon Was Ours in my goodie bag from #TeensReadFeed back in May, the premise had me completely intrigued. This is a novel about defying odds, encompassing identity, and it just offers a plethora of wonder and enchantment to the reader.

This book focuses on magical realism, sexuality, a transgender protagonist, and a Latina main character, who both inhabit each others worlds in the most beautiful and thoughtful way. The beautiful writing sweeps the reader into such an amazing space, and I found myself completely glued to the words on the page. Sam and Miel's journey is so cleverly written, and McLemore makes you the reader feel like you're along for the ride. Their friendship was perfect, perfect, perfect. I loved them, I cheered for them, I wanted them to have everything in the world. I felt like I knew both protagonists so well, and I loved the way in which McLemore dealt with Sam's identity in particular, as it was so methodically done, and I had so much sympathy for him throughout the story.

I also urge readers to please read the Author's Note at the end of this novel. It was actually one of my favourite parts of the book as it offers so much insight into how this novel was crafted and cared for. When the Moon Was Ours is a stunning journey for readers who love complex relationships and magical storytelling. I was so sad when I got to the last page of this book, simply because I just didn't want it to be over.

Nov 03, 2016

When the Moon Was Ours draws on the legend of La Llorona, a ghostly woman who haunts the river, crying for her drowned children. The ghost of a similar tragedy hangs over Miel’s past, and her unwillingness to speak about her life before she came out of the water tower, even with Sam, who has trusted her with his deepest secrets. She is in the habit of consigning the roses that grow from her arm to the river where she hears her mother crying, until the Bonner sisters become determined to seize these “wasted” blooms for their own purposes. This myth adds one more layer to a love story suffused with magic realism, and haunted by tragedy.
Full review: https://shayshortt.com/2016/10/31/when-the-moon-was-ours/

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Jun 13, 2020

Other: Malicious misgendering. Blackmail against a trans character.

Jun 13, 2020

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Scenes include: bring forced into small spaces and locked inside, attempted suicide (drowning), death/loss of family (drowning and abandonment), blood, and forcible removal of (magical) appendages.


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Nov 03, 2016

When the people of the town tore down the old water tower, out came Miel, soaking wet but otherwise unharmed, aside from her deathly fear of pumpkins. This unusual appearance is the least of her oddities; roses grow unbidden from her wrist, and the hem of her skirt is constantly wet, even in the heat of summer. Always half-regarded as a witch, her only friend is Sam, a boy with secrets of his own. He paints and hangs beautiful moons from the trees, and he is maybe the only boy in town who has never fallen in love with one of the Bonner sisters, four more suspected witches because of their great beauty and even greater heartlessness. But when the Bonner sisters seem to be losing their power, they decide that Miel’s roses hold the key to restoring it. And if she doesn’t give them up, neither her secrets, nor Sam’s, will be safe.


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Nov 03, 2016

She had seen him naked. Almost naked. And she understood that with his clothes off, he was the same as he was with them on.


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