An unforgettable story of trauma and healing, told in achingly beautiful prose with great tenderness and care. –#1 New York Times-bestselling author Karen M. McManus
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.
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“Every moment of our life, it goes with us. It lives forever. And a lot of those moments you don’t have much say over. So the ones you do, you’ve got to do everything with them. So that what lives forever is something you want to live with.”
This book is definitely an incredible work that makes you go through all the states while exploring a delicate story that has sexual assault as a focus/central point. Because of this, you can imagine how difficult it is not only to read it at times, but also to talk about it in general, so I want to make it clear that my experience with the book is super personal and I understand how it could affect everyone in different ways.
It’s an incredibly powerful book, very graphic but also with a very interesting focus on the lives of these two teenagers who are brought together by tragedy. This is my first experience with the author and I understand why so many people love her, I will definitely read more of her work in the future.
This book is about two teens, Ciela and Lock, who after being sexually assaulted at the same party begin to develop a bond through which we’ll explore the different ways of going through and/or facing a trauma as such, all of this surrounded by a magical aura.
The plot clearly focuses on what happens after a sexual assault and how the victims must live with the consequences and aftermath of what has happened to them, but also the author shows it in very different ways in each character, so we have unique points of view regarding the same situation, this gives more depth, seriousness and also realism to the book because as individuals we don’t all have the same ability to process pain. In this case, we’re slowly seeing how the characters realize what happened to them and begin the process of dealing with it, with the tools with which each one simply can. They’re completely different and personal processes. This book is certainly high and low of continuous emotions where we go from feeling very bad to feeling good and then laughing, enjoying all that beautiful and lyrical prose, and then crying again, it’s a roller coaster of emotions, no doubt.
This is my first time reading this author and I’m very excited to tell you that I loved her magical, lyrical, and atmospheric prose, I can’t believe it took me so long to give her a chance, and it makes me happy to know that I have more of her works waiting on my shelves, an author worth trying if you haven’t done it yet. I found the author’s style to be one of those that feels like a fairy tale but in real life, you know? And in this book, I feel she combined the dark elements of the main theme, with the elements of magic. I like the handling of the prose in terms of these details as it makes the story feel even more thoughtful and thought-provoking. I really liked her style.
On the other hand, although I really liked the book itself and I think it’s a delicately done, work with a lot of respect, I’m not totally convinced about the addition of the magical elements, in this case. In general, I’m a big fan of contemporaries with aspects of magical realism or a touch of fantasy, but in this book because of the subject matter which is in itself so heavy and difficult to tackle it, seems to me that introducing such confusing fantasy elements at times detracts a bit from the weight of a great plot. Sometimes, I think less is more and this is one of those times. The plot is solid enough to stand very well on its own without the need to combine it with elements of magical realism, in my opinion.
The characters were very well created and I also like how their personalities fit perfectly when they interact, it felt at all times very natural and well done. I really liked the friendship, I love that it was so organic, but most of all I liked seeing the transformation of these characters as you read the book and how even though we see different ways of being and battling and facing this terrible situation that has touched their lives, you can’t help but empathize and somehow come to understand where their thoughts, emotions, and actions are coming from. I don’t want to reveal too much about the characters because I feel that’s the point where I may commit spoilers, so I invite you to discover it for yourself as you’ll find touching acts from both sides, situations of great despair, fear, sadness and then rebirth, survival, and fight.
Without a doubt a book that will leave you thinking, you know? It’s not easy to read, so I recommend a lot of discretion especially because it has moments where it can be quite graphic, despite this, I can’t help but just recommend it because I think there’s a very powerful message behind this book and you can also see the commitment of the author. Besides, being a book that obviously touches on the subject of sexual assault, there are other issues that we will encounter that are worthy of discussion and debate such as racism, discrimination, and prejudice within today’s society. I also find it worth mentioning that we follow characters that are very diverse in both identity and ethnicity.
In summary, I loved this book, which is hard to say because I suffered a lot reading it too, but you know what I mean, it’s a very complete work, well-executed with beautiful prose and a message of healing and overcoming that, in the end, is extremely gratifying. The magical elements as I mentioned aren’t bad, they’re unique and expressed in a fairy tale way, I liked them, but I don’t think they were necessary for this type of plot and in my opinion, they can be distracting, even so, I emphasize that they’re very well done. The friendship and love are very solid throughout the book that brings it to life and gives it a lot of realism and emotions. And although I feel the plot twist will not be for everyone, the main point and idea of the book is understood, none of it is lost and the message that the author wants to give with the story is captured very well. I was so excited to read this book! And yet I can only recommend it, but remember to be careful as it can be quite graphic and touches on very sensitive issues that may hurt the sensibilities of some readers.
I feel that my review is all over the place, but I hope it was understood, this is a wonderful work where I can see the author has committed herself on a much more personal level so I value that deeply, i’s a plot that hurts to read, but it’s also necessary that it’s made visible, thought and discussed. I feel that it’s books like this one that can even change a person or make them reflect or even help them heal, so I really appreciate having come across this book, I knew I would like it, but I ended up doing it for different reasons.
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