13 Oct 2021

#Review: THE MIRROR SEASON by Anna-Marie McLemore

THE MIRROR SEASON

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Series: N/A
Source: Purchased from Audible
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Summary:
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.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
Content Warnings: Sexual assault

I think a lot of people don't know how to review books that they can relate to on a very personal level or have never experienced for themselves. This is probably one of those books where people know it's important but can't quite explain why except that it deals with a lot of heavy subjects (sexual assault, rape culture, etc.) in a easily digestible way.

But there is so much more to this book than just those aspects, even though it was what is focused on. There's the nuance of the subtle shift between victim and survivor - and how sometimes you can be both in the same instance. And McLemore excels at these subtle aspects in all their work, but especially this one.

Ciela was such an interesting character because she exuberated confidence in some ways because of the "show" she is putting on for her family and friends. But she's also keeping so much of herself hidden by doing so. I really liked the exploration of what it means to be marginalized by others and by yourself when you don't identify with the "norm" in your area or circle.

I also really appreciated Lock and his story line. I think it's so rare for these types of stories around rape culture to feature men. Lock describes it perfectly by saying that people don't generally believe it because of the stigma in society about how men should behave, act, and enjoy sex, so they shouldn't be "able" to be raped. But that's not the case. The two of them balanced the story so well and I loved every minute of it.

I wasn't a huge fan of the way that each of them was assaulted but that (while not really a minor detail) felt like a minor element to me. They both experienced a shared trauma and had to deal with it together.

I am glad that the ending was open to reader interpretation of where it goes next. I think sometimes "justice" is just speaking up and telling people your story.

TLDR: Everything Anna-Marie McLemore writes sinks deep into your soul and doesn't let go. This is no exception and honestly is probably their best work. I have never felt so seen and heard in a book the way I have with this. I highly recommend reading this if you have the head and heart space to do so.

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick up this or anything else by Tara Sim?

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