Title: Girl Made of Stars
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publish Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
*I received this ARC as part of Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Program.*
Hey guys! 🙂 I just got back from vacation and I haven’t had my laptop, so I’m going to post two reviews tonight to make up for my week away. As mentioned above, I received both of these ARCs from Miss Print, so a very special thank you to her!! Here’s the first review:
This is such an incredibly important book. Please read it.
In the beginning of Girl Made of Stars, Mara is put in an awful and unimaginable situation – her brother is accused of raping one of her best friends. Owen is her rock, her very best friend, and her twin. Torn between believing him and believing her friend as her feminist values encourage her to do, her world begins to crumble. The rest of the novel is about Mara’s internal conflicts and her struggle to put herself back together as she navigates what her brother has done, what has been done to her, and her relationships with her family, friends, and ex-partner.
The MC, Mara, is bisexual. She recently broke up with Charlie, who is genderqueer and uses she/her pronouns. As Charlie was her best friend and then partner, Mara is very upset when things start getting weird between them after their breakup. She turns to her twin brother, Owen – her cheerful, funny (if not a little bit obnoxious) other half who has always been there to support her. Owen is dating Hannah, a sweet, innocent “hippie” girl and one of Mara’s best friends. One night, Owen gets drunk at a party and Hannah accuses him of raping her which causes Mara’s world to fall apart. Things are weird between her and Charlie and she is unable to turn to Owen who she is suddenly seeing in a different light, so she turns to his best friend Alex, a shy, talented Korean boy. Because Mara feels like he is the only person who understands what’s she going through, she starts to develop feelings for him.
All of the characters in Girl Made of Stars are incredibly well-written. I became attached to several of them (Alex is precious) and loved watching them grow as characters. Mara herself was such a strong MC and she went through a major transformation as she learned how to deal with Owen’s actions, her own personal traumatic experience, and her connections to others. The characters are also very diverse. This was the first book I’ve ever read that included a genderqueer character and it was so interesting to learn more about Charlie’s struggles with her identity.
The relationships between the characters are also very strong. Friendship is extremely important to this story. Even when things get difficult, Mara, Charlie, and Hannah are always there to understand, believe, and support one another. There is also an emphasis on feminism. Mara even started a group at her school called “Empower” which fights for gender equality through written pieces and events.
It is shocking to see how poorly people treat Hannah after she comes forward about the rape, but it is an unfortunate reality. Because Owen is popular and has convinced everyone that Hannah is lying, her peers bully and harass her. However, Mara and Charlie stand up for her and through their actions Blake sends a message about how harmful victim-blaming is. The way Girl Made of Stars looks down on rape culture is very important and eye-opening.
Here are a few more things I liked about this novel (there are spoilers in this section only)…
➳ Even when Owen more or less shows that he’s guilty, he doesn’t blame what happened on the fact that he was drunk. In cases like this, I think abusers too often use alcohol as a scapegoat when in reality being drunk is not an excuse.
➳ When things between Mara and Alex become physical, he always asks her if what he’s doing is okay. When she told him to stop, he stopped without hesitation.
➳ When Mara finally comes forward about her sexual assault, everyone treats what happened to her very seriously. It is so upsetting that in cases where girls are assaulted but not raped people say things like, “Well you weren’t raped so it could have been worse,” and I’m so glad the characters in Girl Made of Stars didn’t react this way.
… and a few things that I wasn’t crazy about.
➳ This isn’t necessarily something I disliked, but it would have been interesting to hear more about the legal aspect of Hannah’s case.
➳ While Mara’s introspection was very effective, the last third or so of the book was almost solely about Mara’s thoughts. I understand the importance of her inner dialogue, but the story became a little uneventful.
All in all, Girl Made of Stars addresses some very difficult but extremely important issues. From sexual assault and rape culture to gender identity and sexuality, this was definitely one of the most eye-opening novels I’ve read in a while. The characters are well-developed, the writing is absolute beautiful, and the messages are so damn important. This is a read I would highly recommend to everyone.
Have you read Girl Made of Stars? If so, what did you think of it? If not, are you interested in reading it? Name a book that you like that discusses serious topics.