Cover Image: The Mirror Season

The Mirror Season

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Member Reviews

Every moment of our lives, it goes with us. The memory of it happening, the non-memory, the shards of glass that cut us open, and the bloodied hands that have attempted to hold the gushing hurt in. Each of our stories are different, but sometimes they overlap, sometimes they aren't as different as we think. Sometimes our stories mirror one another in unexpected ways - bring us together, reflecting our pain onto one another, absorbing it back. 

There is an unspoken communication between every survivor of sexual assault, every survivor of rape, every survivor of something in them they didn't want in them, or didn't want in someone else. It's a shared mirror, those unspoken words, and through it we see how they see us and they see how we see them - and in that we are intrinsically tied. We see each other, and sometimes that is enough. 

Through The Mirror Season I felt seen for the very first time - being sexually assaulted as a man and how that is treated differently. Lock and my experiences are extremely different - but the core there is finally reading about a boy who was forced to do something he did not want to do. I know that. I've lived that. I live that every single day of my life. And I'm so fucking grateful to have this story in my life, and to know the power it has to change so many other people's lives as well. 

The Mirror Season filled a hollow part of me that I didn't know I still needed to fill - as Ciela tries to fill in the cracks around her, this story filled me up. For a story so filled with cold, it warmed me to my core. 

This book is absolutely perfect and the most necessary book I've read in years.
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TW: Sexual assault. The plot of this book deals directly and somewhat graphically with an incident of non-consensual sex involving alcohol and other substances.

To those reading this as potential readers: this book is beautiful, but difficult. There was never any way for it to not be difficult, and the heaviness is handled as well as I think it possibly could be, but if you've dealt with sexual assault, this is frankly a book that will probably be really triggering.  That said, it's potentially also healing, and at the very least affirming. For anyone who hasn't dealt directly with sexual assault, and wants a difficult and complicated but truthful and unflinching perspective, this is definitely worth a read, although it will obviously not be light reading.

To those reading this as potential recommenders: I am having trouble thinking of the student to whom I would recommend this book, to be quite honest. I would never recommend it without telling a student what they're getting into, but I would have to know a student quite well to be sure this is what they could want. BUT this is the kind of book we have to have quietly on our shelves, so someone can find it when they need it. So when a peer recommends it to them in a way I don't think I could, we have it there for them to read. 

More practically, I would never rip a book out of someone's hands, but I might have some hesitations about letting a younger student (we have kiddos down to 12 at my school) walk out of the library with this. Ultimately students' reading decisions are their own, but as comes up in the book, letting someone make a decision with information you know is incomplete is not harmless.

This review is a little differently structured than my usual deal, but I did want to acknowledge some kick-ass things about the book beyond subject matter. The magical realism strikes a perfect balance, where it can't be assigned just to the character's perspective, but it's also not entirely clear what exactly is and isn't happening. Also this book is stuffed full of rich, rounded characters, even in tiny roles. The world of the book feels so real and vivid. Finally, this book made my stomach growl any number of times with amazing food descriptions! I need to read some of McLemore's other books so I have something by them I can more easily recommend.

I hope I've given enough warning that anyone who picks this book up feels like they know what they're getting into-- if you feel up to it, this book is stunning.
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4.5 stars

TW: sexual assault

This book was very engaging from beginning to end. Two teens, Ciela and Lock, were both sexually assaulted at a party. Though Ciela remembers what happened, Lock does not. And we, the reader, also don’t know the details of what happened.

The book is told from Ciela’s perspective, and I found it to be really well-executed. My favorite part of this book is the relationship between Ciela and Lock. Their interactions were cute and endearing, and their story is extremely raw, emotional, and heartfelt. And through them, Anna-Marie McLemore delivers a powerful commentary about race, privilege, and toxic masculinity.

The only thing that kept this book back from a five stars for me was that lack of background on the mirror shards; I wish there were more explanations about them, their powers, and why they appeared.

This is the first book I’ve read by Anna-Marie McLemore, and it definitely won’t be my last. Highly recommended.
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A beautiful, moving, and important book about trauma and healing that will resonate with readers. Anna-Marie McLemore's writing is gorgeous and I enjoyed the magical aspects of the story. I look forward to reading more of their work.
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Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, the Fierce Reads team, and Netgalley for my eARC of The Mirror Season.

Now. 

This is not a happy story. Healing is often more pain than reward. I urge readers to take caution as it goes heavily into triggering topics. 

Graciela, Ciela for short, and Lock have been violated at the same party, but only Ciela truly knows the depths of what took place. As we travel through this novel we watch her navigate her grief, anger, and pain at what was done to her, along with the burden of the guilt she feels. There were many beautiful moments filled with lovely prose and imagery, and I adored the Spanish interwoven all throughout. This is a book of grief, the social implications of what it means to confront those with privilege, and the weight of guilt and not knowing, but it is also one of reclamation, healing, and the absolving of shame you don't deserve. So overall, it was...good. 

But then......why 2.5/3 stars?

Because a decision is made with full knowledge that someone else involved doesn't have that I found completely unnecessary, deeply unsettling, and incredibly upsetting in a book filled with deeply unsettling and incredibly upsetting moments. I'm not going to go into depth because it is a HUGE SPOILER. But I truly believe that it didn't need to be done the way it was and I'm so angry that it happened in this book that is, for the most part, written well with some truly stunning moments that have the potential to leave a deep impact. The timing of this specific moment changed everything for me. It completely altered my experience as a whole.

 I honestly can't wait until more people read this so I can truly discuss. Maybe I'm seeing it wrong. I just wish wish wish that one specific moment didn't happen the way it did. 

Honestly, I don't know what else to say.
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4 stars 

This is a very challenging novel because of an obvious circumstance: its subject matter. The entire novel - from the first page to the last - centers on rape and resulting trauma, and the depictions are close up, honest, and unflinching. Readers need to be aware of both the subject matter and the directness with which it is portrayed before they choose to proceed. 

Those folks who are able to make it to the reading stage will receive a number of pay offs. As is the case in all of McLemore's work, this writer has a skill with symbolism and description that stands out the best way. The use of the Snow Queen tale, the glass/mirror imagery, what happens with the trees, the pan dulce, and the list goes on, creates added textural and sensory components to an already layered tale. 

There are some twists that make the narrative even more difficult to manage, and McLemore's note at the end of the work highlights how and why the portrayal is so in-depth and raw. It is not to be missed. 

At times, I did feel a bit frustrated by aspects of the repetition, but I can also see how this stylistically enhances the theme and the way traumatic memories reveal themselves. 

Overall, this is a very difficult read because of the subject matter and the up close view, but readers who can manage the content will benefit from the style and grace through which it is relayed.
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An absolutely gorgeous piece of writing from Anna-Marie McLemore. Their previous books have been ones that I have thoroughly enjoyed, but The Mirror Season was one that blew me away. The writing is so polished and beautiful and every bit of prose just hit me so hard
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The Mirror Season is told by Cristales, or Ciela as she is also called. Ciela and Lock were both hurt on the same summer night at the same party. Ciela didn't know Lock before that night, and she isn't sure what happened to him, but she knows he was hurt and she had to help him. The rest of the summer she tried to make her life as normal as possible, but that becomes impossible when school starts and she sees Lock again. We as readers don't really know what happened that night, because Ciela is blocking her memoriies and Lock doesn't remember much at all. It's heartbreaking as we watch their memories come back and feel their pain come crashing back worse than ever. 

This is a hard, important story. Hurt, despair, heartache, anger, mixed with magic as only Anna-Marie McLemore can do.
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The Mirror Season by Anne-Marie Mclemore is a story about two teens finding out that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party and slowly the two began to develop a friendship filled with trees, pastries, and magical shards of glass.

Immediately, I knew that this book would most likely be both incredibly beautiful and horribly tragic. I’ve become familiar with Mclemore’s writings over the years and know they manage to somehow weave magic into their words. It’s not just the fact that they are writing these amazing magical realism stories, but the way they write is so lyrical and the sentences just flow so easily. I finished this book in the span of a day really. I simply couldn’t put it down and before I realized what was happening, I had read chunks of it.

This book made me so incredibly angry and just slightly hopeful for these characters. Cristales, or Ciela as some people call her, is the one telling the story. Not only did she survive something very horrible, but so did someone else. Someone she didn’t know, but she knew she had to help him. Ciela tries very hard to forget what happened to her. All summer she tried to imagine things going back to normal, but then the first day of school starts and in walks Lock Thomas, the boy she saved who doesn’t remember what happened that night.

Just like Lock who doesn’t remember what happened, we as the reader don’t really know either. Ciela can’t talk about it, doesn’t want to think about it, even though some of the memories return when she had to face the people who did this to her. Slowly we learn more and more about who she was and who she’s become as well as seeing her friendship with Lock grow and how together they find a way to help each other. Though things seem to come crashing down around Ciela as the secrets she tried to hide start coming out.

The author did an amazing job writing this story and I’m glad it was written. I honestly think it’s a book that everyone should read and I can't wait for it to be published so every can. This has probably been one of my favorite reads this year.
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