The Secrets We Keep and the Lies We Tell: Anna-Marie McLemore’s Blanca & Roja

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Blanca & Roja is as haunting and beautiful as a frost-tinged forest at dusk. It is a poem stretched into prose then stitched around ancient fairy tales like a grandmother’s quilt. It is astonishing. Defiant. Wondrous. Cutting. Feverish. Dazzling. It is all of those things and so much more.

The del Cisne sisters, Blanca and Roja, could not be more different. Blanca is soft and pretty, a delicate flower with blonde hair and light golden skin. Roja is rough around the edges, her ruddy brown skin and blood-colored hair marking her as trouble. In every generation, there are always two girls born, one who grows up a woman and one who is turned into a swan. For most, this competition would turn sisters into enemies. Blanca’s mother tries to make her gentle and graceful so as to impress the swans so much they leave her be, while Roja’s father tries ...