Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Me on Blanca & Roja

Title: Blanca & Roja
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they're also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan. But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans' spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them.

Blanca & Roja is a magical, mysterious tale of sisters and swans, of secrets, of devotion and plans and good intentions. It's fear and sweetness and wonder all at the same time.

Blanca and Roja have always knows that, one day, the swans will come to take one of them. Because that's what's always happened to sisters in their family. That one day two will become one, when only one sister remains while the other becomes a swan, joins all the past del Cisne girls who were taken to become swans. They figure they know what will happen, that the sweet Blanca will be left behind while the swans take Roja with all her sharp edges, but that doesn't stop them from trying to save each other. Then a bear wanders through the woods, then the girls find a cignet, and two locals are drawn in, intrigued by the girls and running from their own lives. Hiding from hard truths.

This is yet another Anna-Marie McLemore book that explores young women and queerness and family and love through a Latinx fairy tale retelling. It's a book about complicated family dynamics and figuring out who you are and hope and pain and confrontation and, in the end, hopefully living freely. It's a book about girls with sharp edges and dreams of the future, about boys with gentle hearts looking for places to belong. It's magic and reality all rolled into one, unable to see the separation between the two. If you're a fan of Anna-Marie McLemore's books, you'll continue to be a fan after this one.

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

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