I read When the Moon was Ours for a readathon today and yesterday. This is a huge deal for me, because I rarely ever manage to read so quickly. It is a good book, a wonderful story. Sam and Miel are precious to me. The writing feels like home, because, like the main characters, I grew up with cultural influences that make me gravitate towards lush stories.
One of the neatest features of this novel is the characters. They all have various facets that make them complicated. Yet, somehow, it was never overwhelming or bothersome.
For instance, the Bonner girls were shrouded in mystery, but they were still human. Not villains. Granted, their intentions were upsetting sometimes, however, my dislike for them stemmed from my love towards Miel and Sam.
Speaking of which, Miel and Sam’s relationship was not simple or reduced to feverish making out sessions. It was love. The honest kind. And, like everything honest, it wavered as both parties dealt with their insecurities.
My favorite aspect of this novel, aside from characterization, was the tone. It reminded me of fairy tales I grew up with: A thousand and one nights, Aladdin, Sinbad; stories of brown people doing more than just breathing.
I liked the fantastical nature of the tone. There was no hints of sarcasm or cynicism. This is raw, honest, and pure writing. It’s the kind of writing I aim for, really. And, in some way, it felt like seeing a future vision of who I wish I could be as a writer and narrator.
The story is beautiful and eerie at times. It’s dream-like and breathtaking. If you’re struggling with its beginnings, keep on reading. It gets way, way better than you would ever expect.
The point of telling stories is sharing. It is all about connections and finding meaningful relationships between audience and writer. Anna-Marie McLemore is super sweet on Twitter, and she was very kind to me when I came out as aro ace. She’d just come out as demi and I felt a strong wave of belonging and acceptance from her.
This certainly echoes in her book. I felt like Sam was very close to me in terms of culture and identity. I am not Pakistani, but I am Arab American, and I get scared of talking about myself much. Through this novel, she suggests that courage and knowing yourself are the same thing. For me, that is life-changing. I rarely am faced with this idea in regards to my identity.
Sam announces that he is a boy, and his mother just says, “Good. It’s important for people to know what they want.” My heart just swelled with affection and belonging, and love. From the image of Miel’s father tearing at the roses that grow from her wrists to make her normal, to Sam being called a girl when he is in fact a boy, through and through, these stories could help those who are marginalized. This is for the kids who are told to conform. This is for us, and from one of us. I love it so much.
Because for some reason, people of color are either hypersexualized or made into sterile clean statues. We’re neither. We are people. And, we have stories that deal with complex things. I definitely feel that this book is important to literature right now. Highly recommend it.
And finally: My rating, I suppose, FIVE STARS! So good.