Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty

Love grows such strange things.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...

Title:Wild Beauty
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Wild Beauty Reviews

  • Cait (Paper Fury)

    AHHHH!! Wait. Am I allowed to call a story

    !? Because holy flowerbeds, peoples, this book is gorgeous. The premise immediately absolutely devoured me: with magical gardens and women who can make flowers grow and finding a strange lost boy hidden in the earth.

    Besotted by the premise. <3 Not let down at all. <3

    Well, actually I admit there are

    AHHHH!! Wait. Am I allowed to call a story

    !? Because holy flowerbeds, peoples, this book is gorgeous. The premise immediately absolutely devoured me: with magical gardens and women who can make flowers grow and finding a strange lost boy hidden in the earth.

    Besotted by the premise. <3 Not let down at all. <3

    Well, actually I admit there are a

    small smidge things that didn't work for me but pfft.

    is one of my ALL TIME favourite novels of ever, and I liked

    but not as much. I felt it had no plot?? Wild Beauty was just gorgeous and it had:

    a) complicated and interesting plot

    b) so so many secrets

    c) it was queer here there and everywhere

    d) like I said: AESTHETICALLY MAGICAL GROWING GARDENS

    e) the writing is so exquisite you literally just sit there and realise you cannot word in comparison to the beautiful words this book has worded. *

    * um I rest my case I guess pls help me

    It really hones in on the details. So it's not going to say "she grew a flower". It will say "she grew a midnight blue rose" or something like that and it just really hones in on making everything explode out of the pages.

    I mean it

    slightly "purple prose" but that's not always bad, ok?!? It's the style here and it's thick and luscious. This isn't the kind of book you skim and it's not like a smol sandwich. It is a hugely rich chocolate cake.

    I like cake. So so much cake.

    Actually speaking of food:

    Plus the boy they pull out of the garden sees all the women are sad so he COOKS THEM DINNER. Quality lad.

    So the Nomeolvides women all live in this garden that the can never leave (or they die; super fun times) and they grow flowers and tend it etc. etc. Most people think they are witches. 10/10 want to be a flower-growing-witch now. ANYWAY. So 3 generations of women live in the house, 5 grandmas, 5 mothers, and 5 daughters. The 5 cousins basically function as sisters and they're SO EPIC AND POWERFUL.

    (That is to say NOTHING AGAINST girls who don't like feminine things!! But we have tons and tons of them in literature so it's lovely to see feminine things rejoiced okay?!)

    Like LOL @ LOVE TRIANGLES. We have a love-pentagon.

    The girls all loved Bay but they weren't bitter or nasty about it. Most of them didn't want to ADMIT to loving her because there's a family curse that makes people they love disappear.

    Fel being the boy they dig out of the garden who is smol and quiet and tragic and LOST (aka my favourite type of bookish boy) and Estrella falls in love with him. They are

    beautiful, both of them.

    Which is a shame. ANYWAY.

    Okay so remember that I said a small amount of things bothered me?? Right, eat a plate of flowers and let's get to it.

    • It is pretty much instalove hahaha...oh wow.

    • Sometimes the book was SO beautifully written it forgot to make anyone more than a 2D character.

    • Bay, in particularly, was everyone's unattainable manic pixie dream girl.

    • I got so confused around 80% through that I had to reread some chapters.

    It is a celebration of magic and flowers and how beautiful things can often cover up deep suffering. The writing was so beautiful at times I just gahhhh. My mouth is open like a codfish. And I literally loved that the entire cast was POC and 90% of them were queer. Magical diverse fantasy is actually what we need in this world. I am SO in love with this book!!

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    I have never, never, never read anything more deeply beautiful in my life. I can't review this;

    The characters, th

    I have never, never, never read anything more deeply beautiful in my life. I can't review this;

    The characters, the love story, the writing, the atmosphere, the imagery. I don't particularly know, but I don't think it's a coincidence that the other two members of this buddyread - my faves

    and

    - both five-starred as well.

    follows a family of women who lose everyone they fall in love with. While they live in a gorgeously decorated set of gardens, the Nomeolvides women are incapable of leaving, and under control by a family called the Briars.

    - One of the youngest of the sisters, and the arguable protagonist. And my icon in every way possible. Her story is one of personal agency and self-hate. Her starflowers appear when she sleeps, unwelcome, unlike those of the rest of the family, and I loved how McLemore balanced. Also, I ship her and Fel so hard. I ship her and Fel so hard.

    - Fel's story is, again, one of agency. I won't spoil his exact character arc, but I

    appreciated that he's SoftTM but doesn't feel emasculated by Estrella's boldness.

    - I just really appreciated her, as a side character. Again, no spoilers! But the narrative around recognizing those you love as people was

    powerful.

    - My fav genderqueer girl! She was just absolutely lovely. I love her narrative about being an outcast.

    All these characters are so well-written and easy to connect with, which is something I think is hard to achieve in magical realism novels. All this beautiful imagery and lovely prose can easily be used to cover up a situation in which

    , but that's not the case with this novel.

    This is an interesting book because it's not

    about racism or about the oppression of queer people. But those themes are

    , woven throughout every aspect of the book. It's such a quintessential queer fairy tale, and I

    it. So, so much.

    I love that we can have books like this now: books that aren't explicit coming out narratives or Issue Books - not that those aren't important - yet still manage to fundamentally tie all of these issues in. It may not be the explicit conflict, but marginalization is at the forefront of this book and this narrative. This is a narrative marginalized people have been writing for years and years. Look at so many narratives about agency or forbidden love -

    , even

    - and you'll discover marginalized people behind the scenes, writing those narratives. But it's a narrative

    And it means so much to me that we finally have these.

    I am so grateful for how far we've come.

    (Can we talk about the fact that this quote manages to decodify bisexuality as being dependent on gender without acting as if everyone else is just shallow? Because it's lovely and I love Anna-Marie McLemore.)

    This book speaks to so many different things, from environmentalism to agency, but all I can say is:

    It is

    an important book, but it never ceases being enjoyable. And while I'll admit this took me a long time to read, I adored every minute, and the last 30% sold me completely on a new all-time favorite. I'm sure not everyone will enjoy it as much as I did - the lyrical writing isn't for everyone - but personally, this is one of the best books I've ever read.

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  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    3.5*

    Every other review I've seen from people I know of this book have been 5 stars but I just didn't love this book, no matter how much I wanted to. I truly love magical realism, the lyrical writing, the odd topics set in a familiar setting, everything about it just amazes me. Magical realisms are generally slow, and I'm okay with that, I read them with patience and a suspension of disbelief in mind, but this was just way too slow for me. The writing was beautiful, the characters and their famil

    3.5*

    Every other review I've seen from people I know of this book have been 5 stars but I just didn't love this book, no matter how much I wanted to. I truly love magical realism, the lyrical writing, the odd topics set in a familiar setting, everything about it just amazes me. Magical realisms are generally slow, and I'm okay with that, I read them with patience and a suspension of disbelief in mind, but this was just way too slow for me. The writing was beautiful, the characters and their family dynamics intrigued me, but it took me so long to figure out what the story was actually about. I'm so sad that I couldn't love this. I liked it, but was slightly disappointed. I think I may give her other books a try, see if they mesh with me a little bit better.

  • Ishmeen

    If I could use only one word to describe this book it would be beautiful. This tale, the characters, the writing - everything about this story was absolutely

    .

    This was my first time reading

    If I could use only one word to describe this book it would be beautiful. This tale, the characters, the writing - everything about this story was absolutely

    .

    This was my first time reading a book written by Anna-Marie McLemore even though I have had

    on my TBR for a long time. Thanks to Netgalley, I was offered an eARC by the publishers and finally got around to exploring Anna's writing style - I have got to say I immediately fell in love with it. I am aware that although her descriptive writing style may not be up to everyone's tastes, I would still recommend giving this story a go purely because of the amazingly crafted characters! Fans of Laini Taylor would especially enjoy her writing style in my opinion ♥️

    I loved the dual POV from Estrella and FEL OMG -

    I loved his chapters soooo much!! He was such a mystery to me and (to himself sigh) but I especially loved the romance ahhhh my fangirling heart is content :) I also loved the diversity and lgbt representation in this story - I personally haven't come across many books with bisexual representatives before but I'll definitely keep my eye out for more in the future!

    I normally get bored by the information dump about history or background in novels, but for some reason I was really interested in the history of the Nomeolvides women and wasn't bored. The bond between the cousins and Fel's opinions of himself really touched my heart and it was just such a nice tale, I would say it definitely lived up to my expectations since this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year!

    I have only read a few books with the themes of magical realism before but I think this genre is really growing on me! I really enjoyed the magical aspects and the fact that everything came into a full circle in the end :') If you're looking a heartwarming and mysterious tale that will hold your interest right till the end, then make sure to pick this one up ♥️

  • destiny ☠ howling libraries

    Buddy read with the lovely

    and

    ! ❤

    ---

    I should have reviewed this weeks ago when I finished it, but I didn't know how. This book nestled itself so deep into my heart, and left me speechless every time I tried to put my thoughts down in words. Anna-Marie McLemore is a brilliant, beautiful artist who has painted the most lovely images, and sculpted the most precious lives, in this story.

    Buddy read with the lovely

    and

    ! ❤

    ---

    I should have reviewed this weeks ago when I finished it, but I didn't know how. This book nestled itself so deep into my heart, and left me speechless every time I tried to put my thoughts down in words. Anna-Marie McLemore is a brilliant, beautiful artist who has painted the most lovely images, and sculpted the most precious lives, in this story.

    The Nomeolvides women are cursed to lives of growing beautiful things outside of them, while everything beautiful

    of them is turned to dust by heartbreak and loss. The imagery of their heartache is painted so brilliantly that I spent the majority of my time reading

    trapped somewhere between rapture and sorrow.

    You see, the women have been cursed by the land that shelters them: each time a Nomeolvides woman falls in love, she will lose her to lover - either he leaves, or disappears. In the beginning of our story, all five of the youngest generation learn that they have each fallen in love with the same girl, and so, they decide that none of them can have her. Things change when a strange young man is returned from the ground for the first time, and the cousins must determine if a doomed love is worth it.

    Though Estrella, too, begins the story in love with the same young woman her cousins have fallen for, it's quickly evidenced that something is blooming between her and Fel, the boy she pulled from the ground. These two are so precious and wonderful together, and I just wanted to protect them from harm so badly! Their exchanges range anywhere from silly banter to the most adorable moments of endearment and intimacy, and I loved every bit of it.

    More than anything, this book is diverse: it is beautifully queer, with lovely brown women (and men) who I can say absolutely nothing negative about. I obviously cannot speak for the racial representation as it isn't my place, but I can speak for the bisexual rep, and tell you that it moved me to shameless tears. It was one of the purest and most authentic representations of my sexuality that I have ever come across, and so much of what was said rang so true. If anyone asked me for a brilliant representation of bisexuality in fiction, I would immediately point them to the passage I pulled this quote from. <3

    Not only is

    beautifully diverse, but it is also feminist as hell. There are multiple instances in which the Nomeolvides women express their frustrations at the double standards facing them, and I found myself grinning and nodding along at more than one of the comments registered against the sexist ideals forced upon women.

    Not to be silly or dramatic, but this book wrecked

    It put me into the first - and worst - book hangover I've had in a long time, and as I'm writing this review, all I want to do is dive right back in and read it all over again! Anna-Marie McLemore has instantly been placed on my "auto buy" list and I can't wait to read more of her work. I cannot recommend this book enough.

  • Melanie

    (Thank you so much,

    ! ❤)

    La Pradera is a magical garden estate, that is curated by a family of women who are unable to ever leave permanently. The Nomeolvides girls are five grandmothers, who had five daughters, who are the mothers of the five young girls, who this story centers around. This land of La Pradera is both blessed and cursed. Blessed, because all of the women can create life in the form of beautiful

    (Thank you so much,

    ! ❤)

    La Pradera is a magical garden estate, that is curated by a family of women who are unable to ever leave permanently. The Nomeolvides girls are five grandmothers, who had five daughters, who are the mothers of the five young girls, who this story centers around. This land of La Pradera is both blessed and cursed. Blessed, because all of the women can create life in the form of beautiful flowers. Cursed because if they fall in love with someone that doesn’t belong on the land, the land will take them from the women; just vanishing one day.

    Estrella, Gloria, Dalia, Azalea, and Calla are the youngest generation of Nomeolvides women and, one day, La Pradera gives them back a gift: a boy from the very ground that has taken and given them so much already. A boy, who can’t remember his past, let alone even his name. A boy who all of the girls are scared will steal their hearts, and in return La Pradera will steal back the boy.

    You guys, this book was nothing short of magnificent. I see reviewers that say this book was slow, but I was teleported and completely captivated from page one. Not only is the writing lush, and lyrical, and whimsical on every single page, but the messages and discussions are important, moving, and life changing. This book is so queer, so brown, and so magical.

    This book heavily talks about immigration and the way we treated, and still treat, immigrants. The unfair work conditions, the prejudices, the blatant racism, the inhumane treatment, the cultural erasure, and how people (even in 2017) want to turn a blind eye and pretend that none of this exists. In America today, we still want to appropriate all the different cultures, but never celebrate them.

    This book unapologetically talks about accepting and loving your queerness. There is such a vast array of queerness in this novel, and it is handled very well and very empathetically and there is even a genderqueer side character! This book also has the best representation I’ve ever read surrounding what it is like to be a bisexual female and to be in a relationship with a male. Some like to put levels on queerness, and this book completely abolishes that mindset and made me so very proud and my heart so very full of happiness.

    This book actively talks about how your body is your body, and no one ever is owed access to it. I was actually surprised by the amount of feministic elements in this already perfect story. I mean, if I’m not singing this book’s praises loudly enough, maybe this quote will sell you:

    This book passionately embraces family, whether it be the blood you share with others or the found family you unconditionally love. This book truly celebrates the idea of family and heritage. The things we are willing to do and sacrifice for the ones we deem are family is something that I will never get sick of reading in books. Yet, this book also celebrates being an individual and having your own identity, separate from your family. Just like flowers, we all bloom differently and at different times.

    This book powerfully discusses cultures and the discussion is constant. Probably my favorite thing about this book was seeing the characters not only embrace and accept, but also love where they came from. We could learn so much from people and cultures that are different from us, if only people could check their privilege and see the day to day oppression that people face. If only everyone could open their hearts to learn and to love, instead of to fear and to hate.

    Beyond everything else, this story is a love story. It’s a ballad whose prose will make you believe in love again. Love between boys and girls, love between girls and girls, love between boys and boys, love between sisters, and cousins, and nature, and the past, and family.

    is one of the best love stories I’ve ever read in my entire life, because it’s the true and realistic love that isn’t sugarcoated, but raw and gritty and never easy, but always worth it.

    Also, I don’t want to throw shade at anyone, but I have to say something, because I also read

    this month and I really didn’t enjoy it. But I love

    , this own voices Latinx magical realism novel, where the culture beautifully bleeds onto the pages seamlessly and unapologetically, and where I actually feel the pain and realness of colonialism. It’s a different experience and it shows, and I couldn’t write this review without mentioning it.

    I truly hope you guys pick this up in October. I really feel like it is a once in a lifetime story that will haunt me for years and years to come, but in the best way possible. Anna-Marie McLemore has made a fan for life. Her writing is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever read, her story has completely stolen my heart, and her messages are some that I won’t forget. Thank you, Anna-Marie McLemore, for writing one of the best things 2017 will ever produce.

    Estrella and Fel have stolen my heart, and I don’t think I’ll get it back anytime soon.

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    Buddy read with my favorites:

    &

    ! ❤

    This was also in the October 2017

    box!

  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    *4.5/5

    Absolutely gorgeous

  • softlykaz

    This book should be covered in rose petals and leave a rose petal everywhere it’s been just so everyone knows it’s been there.

    I've ascended through several emotional planes of existence reading this book and I have a lot of feelings about it and not enough characters to express them. I literally cannot convey how much I love it but I know reading it was the equivalent of entering a warm room after being out in the cold, of lying in a breezy field with wildflowers and big puffy clouds overhead. I

    This book should be covered in rose petals and leave a rose petal everywhere it’s been just so everyone knows it’s been there.

    I've ascended through several emotional planes of existence reading this book and I have a lot of feelings about it and not enough characters to express them. I literally cannot convey how much I love it but I know reading it was the equivalent of entering a warm room after being out in the cold, of lying in a breezy field with wildflowers and big puffy clouds overhead. I truly wish I could just wrap my heart in this story and leave it to soak.

    This is an #OwnVoices novel about 

     who love their lovers out of existence and grow flowers that never keep to where their hands put them & 

     who appear from nothingness to relearn the letters of their names in an alphabet that's constantly changing.

    It's about 

     who were driven out of their lands by men who duct-taped down six shelves of their sweat and hard-work & 

     that consist of pinning flowers to the earth in an unwitting attempt to conceal the decaying ruins under.

    It's about 

     that are rooted in good but that often grow thorns in the end & 

     that always come with the price of loss.

    This is a story that both broke my heart and held it inside me. As a queer woman of color from a country that fell under imperialism and is still affected by it, reading this book truly felt like a hand reached for and found in the dark. I really can't put into words how much #OwnVoices stories like these matter for marginalized readers. We finally get to star.

    It's actually so weird how much of an effect beautiful writing can have on me. Like, there could just be one particular sentence and I would physically feel my heart fill with love and float higher and higher into the sky while '

    ' is playing in the distance.

    Anna-Marie deserves the warmth of a thousand suns for writing an inspiring story that spiritually translates to putting lemons in water and walking in gardens on humid july nights to pick honeysuckles to loop around your hair. And I say 

     because if she can derive such poetry from her writing, then surely we can all crawl across the salt flats of our lives to gain something transcendent from whatever love we can scrape together.

    ✨ 

    I want to reach a Nomeolvides level of etherealness where people are in awe of my existence and there are rumors that I am a witch or not even human!!

    Every Nomeolvides woman is doomed to a life of shoving people inside their hearts where they stuck out like shards of glass and it would hurt every time they came close to loving them. A Nomeolvides is as likely to fall in love with a woman as with a man but their love will ALWAYS make them disappear.

    So what happens when not only one but 

     Nomeolvides cousins fall in love with the same girl?

    I honestly love these women and if I could actually get the moon to always shine down on them, I would. They are both the growing garden and the elements that give it life and there will always be little heart doodles around their names in my head!!

    When the Nomeolvides cousins feared that they would love Bay (who's genderqueer, by the way) into disappearance, they offered a sacrifice to the gardens which they're bound to. So La Pradera brought them a boy, Fel.

    Look, I love those Pure & Soft characters. The ones who are too good. The ones who give everything to the universe and stay good at heart even when it's treating them horribly. The ones who would do something and your immediate thought would be “I love you” no matter how small or transient like cooking for 15 grieving Nomeolvides women but they would do it and your brain is just like, yeah I would venture out into the depths of hell pits for that one.

    Fel is one of them and I volunteer as tribute to kiss his eyelids and draw a thousand heart emojis on him and cover him in a fluffy blanket and hugs because he's actually the purest thing the earth has created!!

    Also, I ship

    so much I want to drown myself in theirs hearts for a moment of intimacy!! And I'm totally down to read an entire book about them just haunting local streets at 3am!!

    Basically the main takeaway of this review is that this book was phenomenal and it genuinely deserves every single praise because this story took my damn breath away!!

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin

    My October Owlcrate Box! It's one of my favorite so far. I will add a link to my blog with close-ups of the things under the picture if you're interested ♥

  • Samantha

    3.75 stars

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