When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna-Marie McLemore

Second paragraph of third chapter:

But tonight they were not those children. Tonight, they were Sam and Miel, and he was pulling her on top of him and then under him. The way she moved against him made him feel the sharp presence of everything he had between his legs and, for just that minute, a forgetting, of everything he didn’t.

This won the Tiptree Award in 2017; I am pleasantly surprised to find that I have read four of the nine works on the Honor List, Borderline by Mishell Baker, Everfair by Nisi Shawl, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. Like the Tiptree judges, I liked When the Moon Was Ours most.

The BSFA Award for Best Novel that year went to Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award to Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. The BSFA and Clarke ballots that year shared two novels, Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan and A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, but neither list had any crossover with the Tiptree list.

It was my first year as Hugo Administrator, and the Hugo for Best Novel went to The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin, but I myself voted for All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders, which won the Nebula. All the Birds in the Sky and Too Like the Lightning were also on the Hugo ballot, and Borderline and Everfair were also on the Nebula ballot.

I really liked this book, and once again kudos to the Tiptree Award (as it then was) for spotting something that others had passed by. It’s set in a world very close to ours, where the protagonists are a Latina girl and an Italian-Pakistani boy in love, but there’s a lot of magic going on (she grows flowers out of her arms; he has a well-hidden secret) and the four red-haired neighbour girls may be witches. It’s an intense exploration of body dysmorphia and the experience of being trans, in a well-realised small town, where the grownups have back-stories too. One of the best novels I have read so far this year, and strongly recommended. You can get it here.

With so many female characters, an easy Bechdel pass.

Next in my list of Tiptree winners (only two left!) is Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin.

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