Title: Blanca & Roja
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: YA, Magical Realism
Edition/Pages: Hardcover, 375 pages
This a ownvoices, Latinx, queer, magical realism retelling of Snow-White and Red-Rose. The del Cisne has been cursed by the swans – there will always be 2 sisters, and one of them will be taken by the swans. Blanca is pale and graceful while Roja is dark and angry. But they try to outsmart the swans, becoming as close and intertwined as possible, making themselves indistinguishable to the swans. But 2 local boys are drawn into their world. And all four of their lives become intertwined with the swans spell.
This book book is told in 4 alternating points of view – Blanca, Roja, Page, and Yearling. And it really covers the gambit of difficult topics – gender and sexual identity, familial roles, abuse, love, race. All with a beautiful magical undertone. Anna-Marie McLemore weaves a world you can’t help but get swept away in.
Things I Loved
- I fell so hard for all of the characters. All four of the main characters was multi-layered and unique. They were flawed and intricate and all dealing with early deep, difficult things.
- The magical elements of this were beautiful. This was my first dip into the magical realism genre and I was worried about being lost in it. But the world McLemore created somehow felt both magical but plausible.
- The representation in this story blew me away. The way transgender and gender fluidity were handled was really amazing. And the difficulty both Blanca and Roja had with the ethnic identity was so hard-hitting. It really highlighted that no matter what you look like, you can struggle with feeling comfortable and seen.
- Yearling was probably my favorite character and his story broke my heart. I just want the world for him.
Things I Didn’t Love
- This is a purely personal preference thing but overly descriptive prose is not my favorite. McLemore’s writing in this is objectively beautiful. But I started to skim some of the drawn out explanations. There is a lot of metaphor for the appearance of things throughout this story and that’s just not the style I prefer. But I would still recommend giving this a shot regardless! This is just the reason for my one star reduction because it did slow the story down for me.
Overall this book was truly wonderful and one I’m still thinking about a month after reading it. I highly recommend picking this up if you haven’t yet!