When the Moon Was Ours

moonWhen the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Young Adult Magical Realism, LGBTQIA+
October 4, 2016 from Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press

When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

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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“Someday, he and Miel would be nothing but a fairytale. When they were gone from this town, no one would remember the exact brown of Miel’s eyes, or the way she spiced recado rojo with cloves, or even that Sam and his mother were Pakistani.” –Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours (eARC Loc 53)

moons

“He’d set tiny gold star stickers on her skin on summer days, and at night had peeled them off, leaving pale constellations on her sun-darkened body.” –Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours (eArc Loc 115)

Bacha posh is a cultural practice in parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and as well as Iran, in which some families without sons will have their daughter to dress up and live as a boy.

“Dressed as a boy. Girls whose parents decided that, until they were grown, they would be sons.” –Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours (eARC Loc 492)

Miel, one of our main characters name, is Spanish for Honey.

Curandera (Spanish, from curar, meaning ‘to cure’): A healer who uses folk remedies.

Bruja (Spanish for ‘witch’): Derived from Brujeria, which is Spanish for ‘witchcraft’, refers to witch-healers in the Americas (especially Latin America and the United States). Both men and women can be witches: brujos and brujas, respectively.

Layla and Majnun is a classic story of love most notably expressed by the great Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. It has been presented in many Middle Eastern and sub-continental cultures; Muslim, Sufi, Hindu, and secular. Layla and Qays, are in love from childhood but are not allowed to unite. Qays (called Majnun, which means “possessed”) is perceived to be mad in his obsession with Layla. Layla is married off to another and Majnun becomes a hermit, devoting himself to writing verses about his profound love of Layla. Although they attempt to meet, they die without ever realizing a relationship. [source – and more info] 

“Her feeling that the moon had slipped from her grasp seemed locked in a place so far inside her that to reach it would be to break her open. But this was why Sam painted shadows and lunar seas on paper and metal and glass, copying the shadows of mare imbrium and oceanus procellarum–to give her back the moon. [. . .] But it wasn’t until this girl spilled out of the water tower, sobbing over her lost moon, that Sam began painting so many copies of the brightest light in the night sky. He would never let it seem lost to her again.” –Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours (eARC 105-108)

“He wanted to give her every light that had ever hung in the night sky. He wanted to give her back what she thought she’d lost years ago.” –Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours (eARC Loc 1094)

“She wanted to be the girl who belonged under his moons, the girl whose skin he’d set foil stars on in constellations that mirrored the sky. . .” –Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours (eARC Loc 1865)

“We don’t get to become who we are for nothing. It costs something. You’re fighting for every little piece of yourself.” –Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours (eARC Loc 2047)

**Quotes are taken from an uncorrected advanced review copy and is subject to change in the final copy**

moon-playlistthat moon song // gregory alan isakov
cruel and pretty // over the rhine
bird song // the wailin’ jennys
stuck under september // alexander wolfe
storm // jose gonzalez
the other side // madi diaz
idaho // gregory alan isakov
arlington // the wailin’ jennys

**playlist was compiled by author and can be found on griffin teen’s spotify**

“One day, they would be no more than that fairytale. They would be two children named Honey and Moon, folded into the stories whispered through this town.” –Anna-Marie, When the Moon Was Ours (eARC Loc 210)

annamarieAnna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, raised in the same town as the world’s largest wisteria vine, and taught by her family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. Her debut novel THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults book, and a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award. Her second novel, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, will be released on October 4, 2016, and WILD BEAUTY is forthcoming in 2017.

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