Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Anna-Marie McLemore

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as thirty-nine authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Anna-Marie McLemore

Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, raised in the same town as the world’s largest wisteria vine, and taught by her family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. Her debut novel, The Weight Of Feathers (out now from Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press), was a Junior Library Guild Selection, named to YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, and a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award. Her second novel, When The Moon Was Ours, will be released on October 4, 2016, and Wild Beauty is forthcoming in 2017.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

I grew up around brothers. Don’t ask me how many. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. But every one of them enraptured me. They left the hallway smelling like sweat and aftershave. They cut open discarded furniture just so they could pick apart the springs on the inside. They let their girlfriends paint their nails, and they beat up any guys who said anything about it.

They showed me how to slice fruit in midair. They told me their secrets for naming cars, and how dropping their names could get older girls at school to back the hell off. But I existed outside their world of pocketknives and borrowed cologne. I took them in with the quiet fascination of watching out of bedroom windows.

It didn’t matter how many times I got my skirt pulled on or my bra snapped while waiting in the lunch line. It never occurred to me that girls were the subject of the kind of intense fascination I felt watching my brothers. Brothers were a world unknown. Boys were a country I could observe only by hiding in trees. But girls? That was me. I marveled at my brothers’ permanent markers and Chuck Taylors, but thought the lipsticks I begged my mother for at age eight were magic only to me.

Then books taught me different. Two books specifically, Like Water For Chocolate and The Virgin Suicides, left me with the understanding that yes, girls were as worth watching as boys. Sisters deserved the same attention as brothers.

Tita de la Garza followed the tenets of her place as the youngest of three sisters, but she also claimed, with passion and courage, that which was forbidden her. She deferred to tradition like her oldest sister Rosaura, but she also rebelled like her middle sister Chencha. Lux Lisbon was the vibrancy and mischief my brothers taught me to live, but she loved her glossy magazines and dress patterns as much as I did. She flirted with boys, but favored the company of her sisters, who both she and the book seem to consider more worthy of her time.

These were girls I could see myself in, a second-to-youngest sister at home in both her girliness and her rebellion, and a youngest daughter who lived in the tense space between obedience and transgression. They were my sisters when I had no sisters. The Lisbon and de la Garza sisters were country I borrowed even if it was not mine.

Yes, there’s invasion in the gazes of the boys who watch the Lisbon sisters. Yes, Tita de la Garza lives under a system of oppression perpetuated by her own family. Yes, both women’s stories end in ways that should have been disheartening to a girl my age.

But even as I knew Lux Lisbon and her sisters would end their own lives, they taught me live my own brightly and fearlessly. Even as I came to understand that Tita’s escape from her own family would be as tragic as it was beautiful, I learned that my mother and I needed to claim our own country as women, however much we loved my father and my brothers.

Lux and Tita and their sisters came back to me while I was writing my second book, When The Moon Was Ours, a story that is, in many ways, about sisters and about the families we make. It’s a story I might never have written if I hadn’t met the Lisbon and de la Garza sisters. Girls, I learned from them, were as worth our own territory, our own bravery, our own joy, as the boys we watched growing up. The Lisbon and de la Garza sisters taught me to watch my mother, to see how she navigated this world of men and boys. They let me take ownership of my pink dresses, my lipsticks, my fairy stories. They let me keep the brazen energy I’d learned from my father and brothers while embracing the blush and graceful strength of my mother and aunts.

This is the debt I owe Lux Lisbon and Tita de la Garza and the sisters they let me borrow: they taught me what my mother had wanted me to know all along, that I was a girl worth watching.

Title When the Moon Was Ours
Author Anna-Marie McLemore
Pages 288 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Magical Realism, LGBTQ
To Be Published October 4th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

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Hi! I’m Jen! I’m a thirty-something introvert who loves nothing more than the cozy comfort of home and snuggling my two rescue cats, Pepper and Pancakes. I also enjoy running, jigsaw puzzles, baking and everything Disney. Few things bring me more joy than helping a reader find the right book for them!