Monday, September 25, 2017

Me on Wild Beauty

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: AnnaMarie McLemore
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

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.

Wild Beauty is magical, a story of flowers, family, and despair. It's the story of an inescapable curse and the young women who so desperately want to break it, the story of the strange boy they find in their gardens. The story of the land that is La Pradera and all the secrets it holds.

Estrella and her cousins are the youngest Nomeolvides girls, the latest in a family of women who live and work the grounds of La Pradera. Women who make flowers appear when they slip their hands into the ground. Women who can love so hard their lovers will vanish. Estrella and her cousins know who they are, who came before them, and they try so hard to keep their loves small and secret. To keep it unspoken. But secrets never last.

From the depths of the gardens comes Fel, a young man with a missing past. A young man that, presumably, was once loved by a Nomeolvides woman and captured by the garden. But why was he returned? Where did he come from? What's hiding in his lost memories? As time goes on in the house full of Nomeolvides women, the worried cousins and the curious mothers and the compassionate grandmothers, Fel wonders what this place is, why he was brought there. Why they ask questions about things he doesn't want to talk about.

This melancholy, heart-wrenching creature of a book. It's so layered, so complicated. It's a story about family, about the ways we love and hate and protect. It's a story of immigration, of those who leave their homes, those without names or papers or anything official, and somehow find a place that will keep them without asking questions. It's a story about consequences, about mistakes made and lived with, about aches and pains and regrets. It's a story about love, about what it does to us, what it gives and what it takes, what it pulls from our hearts. Like previous Anna-Marie McLemore books, this is gorgeously written and imagined, lush with description, emotion, and sorrow. Rich with impossible magic. A must-read.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

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