I am truly losing my ability to review Anna-Marie McLemore books. Honestly. They all just end up in my endless screaming about how much I love them. So just skip this entire book review and just pre-order The Mirror Season. If you aren’t convinced, then keep reading for my full book review.
When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly-magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season…
Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.
But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: rape, slut shaming, sexual assault, sexism, homophobia, queerphobia, self-harm
The Mirror Season is gorgeously lyrical from the beginning. It has all the characteristics of what I’ve come to associate with Anna-Marie McLemore: words that weave tapestries of color and emotion. The Mirror Season is an emotional and moving book about sexual assault and healing. Told in our contemporary world, a world where money and privilege mean punishments lose their meaning. Where queer, brown, poor, teens bear the brunt of fists.
Characters That Make Me Weep
Anna-Marie McLemore is a master at creating complex and compelling characters with vulnerabilities, dreams, and memories. The Mirror Season moved me to tears. The ways bullies latch onto kindness we show and try to turn it into weakness. How we live in a society that doesn’t believe victims. Knowing if people don’t believe us in the little ways, the small grievances, that no one will believe us about the vicious. The crimes that society deems as taboo so they turn to dust in the air, battles of words where some are made of gold and others of dirt.
Themes of Assault and Healing
How assault changes not only how see our bodies, ourselves, and the worlds we inhabit. But how it leaves scars on our heart. Invisible in the hollows and spaces left behind. All the things we don’t do anymore. That we can’t say, the laughs that won’t come, and the second glances. The Mirror Season is a raw portrayal of survival and putting together the pieces of our lives and hearts. It is even more personal as it reflects these fears and worries, doubts and memories within my own heart.
It can feel like we’ve been broken into pieces. That we can never feel whole again, to find joy in the memories and the little moments. But the broken edges of us can refract light into rainbows. Through truth, healing, and love we can piece together what we thought could be no more. We can turn it into something new. Something brilliant and dazzling. Into someone who may be different, but who is just as much a part of us and our past. I truly don’t have enough words in my heart to describe how much I adored The Mirror Season. Please do yourself a favor and pre-order it.