Title: Girl Made of Stars
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Release Date: 15th May 2018
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
This book is truly fantastic! Its such an important, relevant and heart-breaking read, and the author wrote it in both a beautiful and shockingly real way. It's seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read! I'm going to try my hardest to do it justice in this review, but honestly I don't know if that's even possible because there aren't enough words that exist to describe my feelings towards it.
The book follows Mara; one half of Mara and Owen, inseparable twins that have always been close. So when Hannah one of Mara's closest friends accuses Owen of rape, Mara is torn on who to believe out of two people she loves and has always trusted. Split between being loyal to her family and her own sense of truth she begins to feel overwhelmingly lost. Making the trauma from her own past come rolling back, she must face her the past and look to her future. She begins seeking comfort in her brother's best friend Alex and her ex-girlfriend Charlie hoping to make sense of her own feelings and everything that she has lost.
“Even girls made of stars are captives, bound at the wrists and traded like property. Even girls made of stars aren’t asked, aren’t believed, aren’t considered worth the effort unless they can offer something in return. Even girls made of stars buy into those lies sometimes.”
This book confronts many difficult topics, including questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault. And while being sensitive to the subject matter the author managed to broach it in a very open way that didn't shy away from things that need to be questioned more in society.
"I never got it before, you know? All the stories I've heard other women tell about how much shame there is in being the one it happens to. But there is. There's this weight of responsibility, of... god, I don't know. Of just existing."
Along with the very heavy topics the book is an own voices novel with bisexual representation. And there is also a genderqueer love interest. Which were both excellent to see since I haven't seen nearly enough of this kind of representation in young adult literature. I was very happy to see how amazingly diverse the novel was and how well written each individual character was. Even though I can't relate on a personal level to this specific story, I do find it very exciting to see more and more diversity and the fact that no matter who you are there are books out there with characters going through the same things as me or you. There are even side plot lines in this book exploring anxiety, ptsd, panic attacks, depression, sexism, biphobia, homophobia and bullying. And it was great to see these things brought to light and addressed, however if you do find sensitive subject matter triggering I would keep in mind that the topics aren't brought up in a subtle way.
"Owen has always been loud and kind of crude with his friends, but that's not who he is with me. With me, he's a boy made of stars, soft and light and safe. He always has been."
There wasn't much in terms of romance, since the main character had recently broken up with her girlfriend just prior to the beginning of the novel. But the overall character development was extremely well done. And the relationships and friendships in general were very original and honestly not the usual type of thing you see in young adult contemporary.
"Some parts of me are gone. Some others have come alive, woken by the need to fight, to matter, to be heard. Some parts are wary, others angry, others heartbroken. But I'm still me. I'm still moving."
Overall this book was wonderful and I can't get passed how amazingly well done the novel is. I will definitely be looking into Ashley Herring Blake's past and future works. And I highly recommend you pick up this book, it's a read you don't want to miss. The subjects that are brought to light are so relevant and it's important we keep fighting to change the norm and support this kind of development when it comes to literature. The truth is, that this kind of literature is a ground breaking step in the right direction. If you couldn't already tell, the thing I loved most about this was the representation, but I need to mention it one more time because it is honestly outstanding, and there is even more things that I've not brought up for spoiler reasons. But first and foremost this is a story about survival, the ways in which people deal with trauma, and the endurance of heart-breaking truths.
Rating = 95%
THANK YOU SO MUCH to Netgalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group, and Ashley Herring Blake for giving me the chance to read this stunning book in exchange for an honest review.
#ashleyherringblake #girlmadeofstars #bookreview #review #girlmadeofstarsreview #contemporary #fiction #youngadult #diverse #representation #bisexual #ownvoices #abuse #sexualabuse #rapeculture #yaliterature #ya #ptsd #anxiety #mentalhealth #newrelease #2018 #book #books #arc #advancereadercopy #arcreview #houghtonmifflinharcourtchildrensbookgroup #houghton #netgalley