Brief Thoughts: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty coverFor 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.

  • #OwnVoices for Latinx representation, also features bisexuality representation, which was one of my favourite aspects of the story – I love how McLemore describes the Nomeolvides girls’ feelings and how they are and aren’t influenced by their family’s history.
  • My early impression of Wild Beauty was that it is lovely but slow, especially the first 100 pages or so. The story is very introspective, more so than When the Moon Was OursI felt.
    • (I read Moon earlier this summer. That was one of my best reads of 2017, so I can’t help but compare Wild Beauty to it.)
  • I didn’t connect with Estrella until about 150 pages in and overall, I didn’t feel much regarding her romantic story line, certainly not like I felt about Miel and Sam in Moon. Fel I found a bit dull, though his role in the story and his relationship with the Nomeovildes was different from anything I’ve read before.
  • A key part of the story focus on identity – my favourite parts were about personal identity, about defining and shaping your own identity and about not rendering someone invisible by imagining them as you want them to be, rather than as they are.
  • The writing is just as lush and evocative as in Moon, but I personally preferred the imagery in Moon. The concept of flower magic is gorgeous, though my knowledge of flowers is lacking so I felt I wasn’t able to fully visualize what McLemore was describing.
  • The Bottom Line: A different reader may connect more with this story than I did. Even without that connection, Wild Beauty is still worth your time if you’re a fan of magical realism.

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