Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
Wild Beauty is a gorgeous book, saturated in every color imaginable with lush flowers and beautiful gardens as the backdrop to this story of the Nomeolvide daughters. The writing is fluid, imaginative, gorgeous, and seemingly effortless. For over a hundred years, the Nomeolvide girls have been living on La Pradera land, owned by the wealthy Briar family, making the land come to life with their gift of growing flowers in exchange for letting them live on the land. They make these flowers grow from their own hands. But this gift comes with a price. For generations, the woman of this family suffers love. The men and women they love never stay- some die, some disappear, and some just leave. When the youngest generation of Nomeolvide women, five cousins, realize they love the same girl, they know they must do something before she leaves too. Bay Briar, in her old time clothes and beautiful braids, is someone they can’t live without. They each gather something they hold dear and give it to the earth. What they don’t expect to find, once they’ve finished, is a boy wearing clothes from long ago. His skin is brown, his accent like their grandmothers, and no one, including him, knows who he is or from where he came. Estrella, the daughter who can grow blue borraja flowers on her ceiling if the mood strikes, is drawn to him but keeps her distance since she knows his fate is to one day leave. The mystery of Fel, as he is called, and the land of La Pradera forces the girls to understand the truth about who they are and decide if their destiny is out of their hands or will they be the generation that finally breaks the curse? I honestly had no intention of liking this book. I don’t enjoy re-tellings and lore, but I ended up loving this book and appreciating the writing, the storytelling, the magical realism, the effortless LGBTQ components, and the beauty that it gives. I LOVE flowers, and imaging the gardens in their full color and brilliance put me in my happy place. It was easy to imagine being in one of the gardens, book in hand, sun shining down on me while I read. I don’t know how this story will gel with students but if anyone is looking for creative writing ideas, Mexican heritage (the food!), or some well-written romance, then look no further.