The Mirror Season

Rating: 5/5

TW: Sexual Assault, Bullying, Homophobia

There is enough alive in me to grow a hundred rosebushes, a thousand blooms, a million leaves”

Oh Anne-Marie McLemore, you really know how to pull at my heartstrings and I love every minute of it. Stunning, haunting, and emotionally raw, this book sheds light on rape culture, the aftermath of sexual assault, and how they survive while pursuing a journey of healing. This wasn’t an easy book to get through, there were times where I cried and had to put the book down. Even with those difficult moments, McLemore intertwines hope, discovery, love, and finding magic in life while on a journey of healing.

“It costs something to listen to someone else’s story. People forget that sometimes.”

On a night like any, the world’s of Ceila and Lock come crashing down when they are sexually assaulted in rooms mirroring each other one fateful night. While Celia can remember what happened, Lock can’t and the guilt begins to weigh heavily on her. That guilt begins to impact her more than she wants as she tries to work through it while also trying to heal herself. The way that McLemore unwraps the many layers of Ceila’s guilt gives it so much more depth and it’s also truly heartbreaking.

“I hope he hasn’t put all this together, this thing we have in common that he can’t remember and I can’t forget.” 

The pain, hurt, loss, and even guilt that Ceila feels towards what happned with Lock especially as he doesn’t remember what actually happened is hard to read at times. I felt for Ceila who was concerned for Lock and took a lot of it on herself. Through this, a budding friendship forms and the two are able to heal each other while trying to take care of themselves. To me, those are the best kind of friendships where two people who may of not met on their own but they brought together by tragic events that happened in their lives. The way that McLemore writes the characters, we see them as real people going through very real situations and trying to heal from it which to me is a sign of a great author.

Months ago, I didn’t cry, and I didn’t scream because I thought if I started crying and screaming I’d never stop. But now, I don’t care if I scream forever. If I scream forever, they will have to hear me forever.

McLemore doesn’t hold back from exploring the power dynamics that pre-exist to that night of Lock and Ceila, both from poor to middle class backgrounds up against their rich white classmates who are related to people who have their names on buildings all over town. For Ceila, her peers not only look at her different because of the color of her skin but also her sexuality. For Lock, it’s the stigmatization and misconception that boys don’t get raped because of their gender that they should be able to defend themselves from being sexually assaulted. I appreciated how McLemore wrote Lock and how he struggled to heal from the trauma, it was raw and real.

But I know this one, the boy who needs light flooding into parts of him that have gone dark. And I am, in some way smaller than my hands, bringing him back to life.

While the subject material in the book are important for us to understand, no one should push themselves through it. Sometimes, I struggle with sexual assault is written in books and that was something that I was worried about while reading this so I was very pleased with how it was done and played out. Anne-Marie McLemore is an incredibly talented and wonderful writer and I have to say that this is her best book to date. So if you want to see if it’s up your alley, feel free but don’t feel pressured that you have to read it!

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