DIVERSE READ: Latinx characters + Bisexual MC + Genderqueer side character
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, LGBTQIAP+
Summary: Love grows such strange things.
For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.
The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.
My thoughts: Hands down, this is by far the most beautifully written and atmospheric novel that I have ever read. This is my first McLemore novel that I have picked up and the prose and magical realism that was woven into this narrative gripped my attention and made me awestruck that someone can write a story so vividly as McLemore did. From the moment the story began, I fell in love with each Nomeolvides girl who used their fantastical powers in order to create endless amounts of flowers. I adored every second of this novel, simply because every scene was described in such a gripping and wondrous way that made me feel as though I were transported to another world.
What I loved the most was how diverse this story was. The main character was a bisexual Latina, and the majority of the cast was Latinx as well. There is also a genderqueer character who explains their identity so well and is treated so nicely which was refreshing to read about. The Latinx culture woven into the story was so beautifully written and I loved how the characters spoke in both English and Spanish because that is exactly how my household is, and I finally felt as though I could relate to a novel because the characters shared the same culture as mine. I adored the familial elements of this novel from how tightly knitted the women of the family were to how they all relied on each other to work together to keep each other’s spirits up. It was such a heartwarming cast of characters to read about, and I only wished there were more chapters simply following them throughout their lives because they were all so quirky and interesting to read about.
The strongest point of this novel was the prose. McLemore writes such a vivid and atmospheric setting for a story filled with magical realism and quirky characters that feel as though they are standing right before you. She manages to use the prettiest words to set the scene flawlessly in a way that sucked me in and kept me reading all day to see what was going to happen next. I adored all the twists and turns this book took, thanks to the magical elements influencing the Nomeolvides women. The way this story was written was so utterly unique and lovely, and I felt as though I had been on a journey alongside these strong Latinx ladies as they tried to figure out how this garden controlled their lives.
This was the first novel that I truly felt myself represented in. It was so refreshing to fully connect to a main character, on all levels, with her sexuality and her ethnicity, and I felt so honored that I was able to read this book early and take my time reading it. This book was like a perfect cup of coffee to me that I wanted to savor the taste and happiness that it brought forth to me. I loved every second of this novel and am so in love with McLemore’s take on magical realism. This was a flawless Latinx centered read, for me, and now I am compelled to read all of McLemore’s stories because her writing is too gorgeous. I recommend this novel to everyone who loves reading because it is a new favorite novel of mine, and I love it to pieces.
*I received a physical copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*