The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
For a heartbreaking but beautiful story and way of writing, for revelations that constantly hurt more
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’s 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.
This book took me a long time to actually read because I knew it would be difficult. How could a book about a girl who was sexually assaulted, at the same time as a boy was as well at the same party, be anything but? There’s some magical realism in here that helps, mercifully, to distance and navigate the the pain. It does so much more than that, but for me it was extremely helpful in that way too.
The writing itself is truly lovely. It manages to be delicate and creative with comparisons and imagery, while still being crystal clear about the events and the pain each characters is dealing with. It almost feels like a poem at times, and there are some scenes — I’m thinking the garden — that were so well evoked in feeling that I felt it surrounding me. I was utterly transported.
The plot evolves constantly. The details of what happens is hazy for the characters at times, as well as the reader. Each change caught me off guard and hurt that little bit more for them. My experience mirrored Lock’s a lot more than Ciela’s, despite the narrative coming from her perspective. Even being in her head, Ciela kept a lot of things secret and close to her.
This is a review I struggle to write, because of the nature and topic of the book. But this is the best I can convey.
Thank you Alicia for gifting me this book!! Say hello @ A Kernel of Nonsense 😊
6 thoughts on “Review: The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore”
I’ve enjoyed the McLemore book I read (Dark and Deepest Red) but I’ve been hesitating on this one because I know it will be difficult. I do want to pick up more of their work, though!
LikeLiked by 1 person
It wasn’t quite as hard as the topic can be, but it’s never easy, right? There was a lot of beauty in it too though
That’s good. But including the beauty is what I would expect from what I’ve seen of McLemore’s work.