Genre: Young Adult- Magical Realism
Page Count: 288
Publication Date: 2016
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Miel and Sam are inseparable best friends. Perhaps this is because neither of them really feel like they fit in completely. Roses grow out of Miel's wrists, and have grown there since she fell out of the water tower and into town. Sam is hiding a huge secret about what's under his clothes, and Miel is the only one besides his mom who knows. When the mysterious, and somewhat magical, Bonner sisters decide they want Miel's roses for themselves, everything in Miel's and Sam's worlds must shift.
I knew pretty much nothing going into this book. I read the synopsis on Goodreads and then requested if from my library. By the time it came in, I remembered nothing about the plot so I just jumped in, and I'm glad I did.
The writing is beautiful. The magical elements of the novel blend in seamlessly with the small-town atmosphere that McLemore creates. The existence of Miel's roses was so easy to accept and created a beautiful layer of magic in the novel. I also loved the diverse representation in the novel. Sam is a transgender boy whose family is from Pakistan and Miel is Latina. The after-note mentions that the author's husband is a transgender man, which is really great to know. It's great to see diverse characters in any novel, but particularly in genres where they don't often appear such as magical realism or fantasy.
While the writing was beautiful, I had some issues with the plot. We seemed to be building and building up to something the whole novel, but I didn't really get the sense that that something ever happened. The end of the novel was good, but it felt quiet compared to all of the tension we were building in the novel.
I loved Miel and Sam and their relationship with one another. Both characters grew together and independently, and I enjoyed their character arcs. The Bonner sisters were fascinating; they reminded me of The Virgin Suicides sisters, and I would have LOVED more on them, or something from their p.o.v. Perhaps this is why I felt a little unsatisfied with the ending; I wanted more from and about the Bonner sisters and the part they played in the plot. I was left with a lot of questions regarding the Bonner sisters.
I used this novel to mark off the 'romance with a trans main character' square on my Diversity Bingo board and would recommend this novel if you're looking for a book that fits that bill or if you're a fan of magical realism. This book has a lovely reading experience, as the atmosphere is so magical and hazzy. I'll be checking out McLemore in the future!