Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Book Review: "Girl Made of Stars" by Ashley Herring Blake

Powerful, emotional, and thought-provoking, Ashley Herring Blake's Girl Made of Stars is a beautifully written, poignant book about the bonds of family and friendship, gender and sexual identity, the emotional traumas faced by victims of sexual abuse and assault (not to mention the "blame the victim" mentality which is all too prevalent), and the confusion and anxiety which often accompanies love.

This was utterly phenomenal.

"Once upon a time...a brother and sister lived with the stars. They were happy and had wild adventures exploring the sky."

Mara and Owen are twins, so similar and yet so different from one another, yet they are incredibly close. But one night following a big high school party, Owen's girlfriend Hannah (who is also one of Mara's best friends) accuses Owen of raping her. How could someone Mara once shared a womb with, someone she knows better than anyone else, have done such a thing? Even as their parents rally around Owen and declare his innocence, can Mara believe her brother is truly innocent? If not, what does that do to their relationship? And if so, what happens to her friendship with Hannah?

Confused, hurt, and angry at so many people after the incident, Mara feels adrift because her relationship with her ex-girlfriend Charlie is tremendously uncertain. She knows she wants to be with Charlie but is afraid of what that means, afraid of letting someone get too close. But more than that, Mara has been able to keep a traumatic event in her own life a secret, but at what cost? If she speaks up, will anyone believe her? Will her parents believe her? Or will she be treated by her peers, her friends, her family in the same way Hannah has been?

"What else is there to do? What else is there for any girl to do, when everyone but her can just forget everything like a random bad dream? I have no idea what moving on sounds like, looks like. I've spent the past three years trying and decidedly not getting over anything."

Girl Made of Stars doesn't exist in a fantasy world where every person who does wrong is punished, and everyone learns from their mistakes. It's a book that accepts that life is often grey rather than simply black and white, but we can't stop fighting for what is right, fighting to make sure those who do wrong are punished. I think that's why this book works so well—it's never heavy-handed or preachy, but it does emphasize the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Ashley Herring Blake is amazingly talented. Her ear for dialogue, her eye for evocative imagery, the flawed yet unforgettable characters all dazzled. One of the greatest compliments I can give is that this book felt a little like one of Jandy Nelson's exquisite books, two of my absolute favorites (I'll Give You the Sun and The Sky is Everywhere), yet she is an author with a style all her own.

Like many YA books—and like life, honestly—there are moments in this book in which you wish the characters would just say what they were feeling rather than avoid the truth. But while those moments may cause frustration they are realistic, particularly given the issues that these characters are confronting, so it didn't detract from my enjoyment of this book.

Beautiful, emotional, and thought-provoking. I couldn't ask for anything more!

No comments:

Post a Comment