Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Mirror Season Cover Art

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
Macmillan / Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
ISBN: 978-1250624123

Latinx teen Graciela attends a party and is sexually assaulted along with a white boy she’s never met before. The boy has been drugged, so Ciela drops him off at the hospital before heading home, vowing to herself that she’ll forget everything that happened that night. Unfortunately, it turns out that forgetting the incident will prove to be difficult as Ciela discovers she has lost her talent for identifying which type of pan dolce the customers at her tia’s pasteleria want before they even know – the talent that earned her the nickname “La Bruja de los Pasteles.” She’s also noticing that objects around her are turning into mirrors, neighborhood trees are disappearing and the annual Santa Ana winds are conspicuously missing this year. To make matters worse, the boy Ciela took to the hospital is her school’s newest student and helping him might be the only way Ciela can start to get her life back.

This Snow Queen-inspired story delivers everything readers have come to expect from McLemore. The writing is evocative and emotionally resonant. McLemore has infused a survivor story with their signature magic realism to great effect. Subject-wise, this is a difficult book to read, but the brisk pacing and vivid imagery will keep readers glued to the page. An author’s note opens the book noting not only the personal nature of the book, but also the content that readers may need to be aware of, specifically depictions of sexual assault and homophobic language. 

Readers who appreciate this book’s nuanced take on sexual assault and its aftermath will find titles like We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire by Joy McCullough and All the Rage by Courtney Summers similarly affecting. Readers seeking more magic realism in a fairy tale-inspired setting will enjoy many of McLemore’s previous works, particularly Blanca y Roja and Deep and Darkest Red.  

Courtney Waters, she/her/hers

Other Nominated Titles

  • The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta (October 12, 2021)
  • Starfish by Lisa Fipps (March 9, 2021)
  • A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (October 5, 2021)
  • Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp (April 6, 2021)
  • Gilded by Marissa Meyer (November 2, 2021)
  • Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck (June 8, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.