Winner of the 2016 Tiptree Award
Longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature
Stonewall Book Award Honor
"McLemore dances deftly across genres, uniquely weaving glistening strands of culture, myth, dream, mystery, love, and gender identity to create a tale that resonated to my core. It’s that rare kind of book that you want to read slowly, deliciously, savoring every exquisite sentence." —Laura Resau, Américas Award Winning Author of Red Glass and The Queen of Water
At once a lush fairytale, an unforgettable queer romance, and a celebration of trans love, Anna-Marie McLemore's When the Moon Was Ours is a modern classic that proves there is magic in being yourself.
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Samir 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. Samir 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.
As odd as everyone considers Miel and Samir, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. But now the sisters 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-- including Samir's past.
As she did in The Weight of Feathers, McElmore blends magical elements with a culturally vibrant cast to create a haunting modern fairy tale. At its heart are two best friends turned lovers: Miel, a girl rumored to be born of a water tower who grows roses from her forearms, and Sam who, in keeping with the Pakistani tradition of bacha posh, has been raised as a boy, and now has no interest in living as anything but. Magic, myth, and legend are woven into the fabric of their town, and Miel and Sam's relationship is complicated when the four Bonner sisters, who are rumored to be witches, come to believe that Miel's roses will help restore their influence over the town's boys. Lush, reverential language remains a hallmark of McElmore's work, and while the story's momentum can suffer as a result, readers interested in gender identity and the pull of family and history will find this to be an engrossing exploration of these and other powerful themes. Ages 12 up.