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Reviewed by:
  • The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor
McLemore, Anna-Marie The Mirror Season. Feiwel, 2021 [320p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781250624123 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781250624130 $10.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 9–12

As La Bruja de los Pasteles in her family’s bakery, high school junior Graciela has always been able to sense the one treat or pastry would please a customer the most, but she’s lost that ability in the wake of a sexual assault at a party. That’s hardly the only upsetting thing going on (flowers turn to glass in front of her, trees disappear from her neighborhood) and most disturbing is the arrival of Lock—a boy who was assaulted at the same party she was—at her school. She feels responsible for what happened to him (she put him in the room where the perpetrators eventually found him) so she’s grateful when he can’t remember that night. As they become closer, it gets more difficult to keep that secret, particularly when another classmate threatens to tell him. This is an unflinching, unforgiving look at sexual assault, and the narrative balances the rawness of Ciela’s trauma with the more ethereal elements of magical realism, a combination that shows with a tender clarity how deeply Ciela’s pain has rooted itself in her life. Her desire to keep her assault to herself while attempting to keep Lock safe from his memories is painfully authentic, so when the disturbing details of the rape are laid out, it’s clear the revelation is no authorial ploy but a cathartic rush. McLemore is unequivocal in the distinction between sex and sexual assault, and the inclusion of sex-positive discussions and Ciela and Lock’s eventual sexual relationship emphasize that trauma can live next to and not eclipse all good things; the author also shares their experience with assault and their current legal action against their perpetrator. This is not an easy read, but it’s an elegant, honest, and ultimately buoying one. [End Page 306]



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