Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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” (Goodreads).
This was so close to five stars, and I really wanted to give it that much, but it had one, main issue: unnecessary romantic drama. There. I said it. I hate unnecessary romantic drama. Like, seriously, if you guys just talked, you wouldn’t have these issues. Romantic drama only serves to stall the plot…there’s so many better ways to do that (and also…shouldn’t we be moving the plot forward?).
My favorite thing about When the Moon Was Ours was the writing. Marie-Anne McLemore writes in such a beautiful, unique way. Everything feels timeless and fragile in her worlds and I devour them. She writes both Sam and Miel’s stories beautifully. While Miel’s issues are no where near the magnitude of Sam’s, this book at its core deals with self-acceptance. This novel is about learning to love yourself for everything you are. Miel needs to accept her gift of having roses grow from her skin and Sam needs to accept that he really is transgender, not just male to fill the spot in his family. This story is so beautiful. Usually stories of these nature revolve around gaining acceptance from family or friends, but that isn’t the case here. No one cares that Sam is transgender, except maybe some bullies, and no one cares that Miel’s wrists grow flowers, except for bullies as well. But the people that matter in their loves don’t think these parts of them are bad. They love them anyway. This story is really important, something I probably needed to read too. We all could use a dose of self-acceptance, no matter what we’re accepting about ourselves.
I found it interesting that these inner conflicts are juxtaposed against Aracely’s (Miel’s guardian) healing powers. For payment, she can make anyone’s love for someone else go away, anyone’s pain disappear. One woman comes back again and again after making the same mistakes again and again and Aracely heals her. She is never permanently healed. This was such a beautiful background to have, that we really cannot be healed by anyone but ourselves. Aracely makes her business doing this, perhaps to distract from her own need for inner-healing. I loved Aracely, even if she wasn’t perfect and even if she lied to Miel. While I hate lying, I can understand Aracely’s perspective. Sometimes we need time to come to terms with our truths before we tell them to other people.
While the lying and relationship drama dragged parts of this book along, I still found the story at its heart beautiful and necessary and wonderful. And I also think the author’s note is one of the most heartfelt I have ever read; it’s about her relationship with a transgender man who is now her husband and how he inspired Sam’s story.
I urge anyone who has ever hated themselves to read this book, anyone who has ever struggled to accept themselves. Honestly, though, I really just think everyone should read this beautiful story.