Review: Girl Made of Stars

Girl Made of StarsTitle: Girl Made of Stars

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)

“I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”

Mara 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-girlfriend 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.

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.

What a phenomenally moving and all-too-relevant novel.

As the founder of the feminist newspaper on her high school campus, Mara holds certain beliefs near and dear to her heart and isn’t afraid to get loud about them. But when one of her best friends accuses her twin brother of rape, suddenly there’s no such thing as black and white.

Girl Made of Stars is an emotional story about the questions that don’t have answers. How can someone you’ve known your entire life be capable of such an atrocious crime? Can you still love someone despite the worst thing they’ve ever done? How can anyone move on from such a tragedy?

The prose is beautifully written yet still so hard to read because of the heavy spread of topics it covers. And it’s exactly because of those topics that everyone should read it. Girl Made of Stars analyzes slut shaming, victim blaming, and consent. Yet at its core, it’s still a novel about hope, about love, about survival.

This. This is why I never said anything. Because no one ever believes the girl.

Mara is so, so easy to fall in love with as a main character. She’s fiercely brave yet incredibly vulnerable, and I was invested in her from the very start. Her struggle to untangle her emotions from what is becoming increasingly clear as the truth behind the situation is heart-breaking. Hannah’s accusations hit close to home not only because of who is involved, but also because they force Mara to face a trauma buried deep in her own past.

It’s impossible not to get caught up in the same doubts that plague Mara throughout the novel when the rest of the cast is filled with characters just as rich and three-dimensional: Owen, the twin brother who’s been at Mara’s side her entire life, whose goofy and kind-hearted exterior shows cracks of something darker underneath if Mara forces herself to look hard enough; Mara’s parents, who always inspired Mara’s moral compass but seem to refuse to look hard enough themselves; Hannah, so broken yet so strong, who feels the need to apologize for the trouble she’s causing Mara even while weighed down by a shadow that will haunt her for the rest of her life. These achingly realistic characters only highlight the fact that there are no easy answers, no clear cut path forward.

My hands itch to hold my family—hold them together. But we’re already in pieces.

The representation in Girl Made of Stars also deserves praise. Mara’s ex-girlfriend and long time best friend Charlie struggles with her gender identity, and Mara has the opportunity to explore her own bisexuality and conflicted feelings about sex. I found a connection to these characters that’s still not as common in YA novels as it should be, and I’m still in awe at how much ground was covered in just over 300 pages.

This is a book that doesn’t shy away from the hard questions; it tackles them head-on and unflinchingly. There were times when I wanted to scream, when I felt sick to my stomach, when the tears flowed freely. This is a book that made me feel. Kudos to Blake for packing so many timely topics into a tale that still manages to flow seamlessly and poignantly. It’s not an exaggeration to say this is the most important novel I’ve read in a long, long time. I’d recommend Girl Made of Stars to absolutely anyone.

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 lives sometimes.

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Author: Kaila

My name is Kaila, and I'm a bibliophile with a love of traveling and adventure. When I'm not buried in a book - preferably mysteries, thrillers, and fantasies - you'll find me at work as a software engineer or training as an amateur Muay Thai fighter ... no dull moments here!

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