BOOK REVIEW: Girl Made of Stars

girlmadeofstarsTitle: Girl Made of Stars

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 15, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary, LGBT

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

SynopsisMara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault. 

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ARC provided by the publisher via YALLWEST in exchange for an honest review.

I can’t see the situation clearly. Can’t see what to do about it. Can’t help Hannah, can’t hate Owen, can’t say anything that matters. Anywhere I turn, I’m betraying my own — my friend, my brother, myself. Belief isn’t easy, it isn’t black and white.

I think I’ve been reading a lot of amazing books lately. As soon as I finished this one, I immediately pre-ordered a finished copy.

This books is heavy and important.

It asks us to question our beliefs and values and makes us wonder if there can be any exceptions. What would you do if someone close to you was accused of doing something horrible to someone else? What if you believed they actually did what they were accused of? Would you support your loved one or help seek justice for their victim? Would you somehow try to figure out how to do both? And how would your relationship with your loved one change? How would your life change?

A Girl Made of Stars is told through the perspective of Mara. Her twin brother is the accused and her close friend is the accuser. It is heartbreaking to see how she wants to believe her brother is innocent while knowing her friend wouldn’t lie either. Through Mara we see why many victims of violence choose to stay quiet. While confronting her own trauma, she feels stupid and embarrassed and wonders if what happened was her fault. She notices how even though bad things happen everyone’s lives still look so normal, like nothing actually happened even though everything feels wrong. Aside from being pulled between her brother and her friend, Mara and her ex girlfriend, Charlie, question and explore their sexuality. The way Mara handles each situation and the choices she makes are all, in my opinion, not always well thought out at first yet always believable, and I admire her strength through everything she faces.

Hannah is Mara’s close friend and the girl who accuses Mara’s brother, Owen, of rape. This book is full of strong female characters, and Hannah, Like Mara, is one of them. To me, being able to speak up about your experience takes a lot of strength. Hannah voices that she has been raped, but sadly, most of her peers believe she is to blame.

Owen is handsome and charismatic. He is a talented violinist and gets good grades. He studies hard but parties hard, and he is Hannah’s boyfriend until he is accused of raping her. I think that rape is always always always wrong, but even as the story progresses Owen never gives off an evil-bad-guy vibe. If anything, he seems scared and desperate. So when he spreads his “side of the story” it makes it easier to believe that he is innocent.

I think the most controversial character in this story is going to be Mara and Owen’s mother. She is described as a feminist and is proud of Mara for fighting the patriarchy, yet she vehemently defends Owen. I feel that she is in the hardest position because the accused rapist is her own son. I’m not sure about you all, but I can understand wanting to protect someone you created and molded despite their wrong doings. In the twins’ mother’s case, it seems she has convinced herself that her son is innocent in order to believe in him.

This book isn’t just about rape, it’s also about moving on and changing as a result of trauma. As someone who has had a similar experience to one of these characters, I feel that Ashley Herring Blake perfectly captures how it feels to try to be your “old” self while knowing you aren’t completely who you used to be. She fully captures the struggle and hope, and I think this book is worth reading if you were only to pick up on that.

I just won’t move through the world like I did before. 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. We all are, in some way or another.

I urge you to read this book because there is so much to learn from it. Maybe if more books like this one were read, more victims of abuse would feel it was okay to seek justice for their experiences.

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TW: Rape

Quotes were taken from an unfinished proof copy and may not be the same in the finished work.

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