Girl Made of Stars

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Girl Made of Stars Book Poster Image
Gripping story of girl's twin brother accused of rape.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Realistic look at what victims of sexual assault go through, including the administration of rape kits at the hospital, fear of not being believed, social repercussions such as isolation and victim blaming. The issue of consent is explored and discussed. A look into what life is like for gay, bi, and nonbinary teens. Accurate portrayal of panic attacks. In the back of the book, the author lists several resources for victims of sexual and child abuse.

Positive Messages

Though negative things happen in Girl Made of Stars, the importance of friendships, honesty, and integrity are central themes. Overall messages include trust your gut; loving your family doesn't mean always agreeing with them; it's important to speak out, even if it is a terrifying thing to do; and always stand up for what's right.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the teens in the book are good role models. Mara is conflicted about many things, but she is a solid, honest, caring person. Charlie is extremely supporting and loving toward her friends. Hannah is strong, smart, and sweet. Alex works hard to be a good friend to Mara and Owen, even though he is in a difficult position. Mara and Charlie are a positive example of a same-sex relationship.

Violence

A rape is the major plot point in the book. It's described and discussed several times, but not graphically. Teen slaps, shoves, and hits a bully. Predatory behavior and an incident of sexual molestation is described in detail. Several instances of verbal bullying, including victim shaming, name-calling, and gay slurs. Teen pushes another teen in anger.

Sex

Romantic relationships and dating figure strongly into the plot. Depictions of flirty behavior, kissing, and making out that gets close to sex.

Language

Frequent strong language includes "s--t," "f--k," "God," "ass," "d--k," "douche bag," "bitch," "a--hole," "crap," "piss," "hell," "Jesus Christ," "butt," "dammit," "damn," and "slut."

Consumerism

Most of the brands and media mentioned are for scene setting, including Volkswagen Beetle, Honda Civic, Huffy bike, Sprite, Mountain Dew, Diet Coke, Netflix, Coke, Whoppers, M&Ms, Converse, iPad, Wii, Dove, and Mario Kart.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink at a party. One friend is the designated driver.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Girl Made of Stars, by Ashley Herring Blake (Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World), is about twins Mara and Owen and how an accusation of rape against Owen takes its toll on Mara and her family. The victim of the alleged assault is one of Mara's best friends, and most of the book centers on Mara's conflicted feelings over who to believe. Mara is bisexual and her ex-girlfriend Charlie is nonbinary. Their sexual and gender identities are positively portrayed and figure into the plot. Characters drink in one scene and swear somewhat frequently, including "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." Consent, family dynamics, the effects of trauma, teen dating, and bullying are important aspects to the story and provide good discussion points for families.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJnecessary July 14, 2018
Deals with complex issues, that need to be talked about before reading the book.
Adult Written byvrenzy g. August 2, 2018

must read

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What's the story?

In GIRL MADE OF STARS, twins Mara and Owen are exceptionally close, and that nearly molecular-level knowledge of each other is the thing that threatens to tear them apart. When Owen is accused of raping his girlfriend, who happens to be a close friend of Mara's, she has no idea who to believe. Her family expects her to back Owen in his insistence on his innocence, but a past trauma of Mara's and her work in her feminist club tell her to believe the victim. And because she knows the victim well, she has a hard time believing she would lie. The buried trauma from Mara's past starts bubbling up and becomes hard to ignore, and when mixed in with relationship problems with her ex-girlfriend and social issues at school, she's left feeling isolated, confused, hurt, and overwhelmed. She digs deep into scary emotional territory to find out what she is made of.

Is it any good?

This emotional story of family and friendship tackles lots of tough issues, including rape, consent, sexual and gender identity, and teen relationships. In Girl Made of Stars, author Ashley Herring Blake successfully shows why it is so hard for victims of sexual violence to come forward. She also highlights the ripple effect sexual assaults create on the lives of the victims and those close to them. Mara's a relatable and enjoyable narrator. It's easy to feel everything she is going through and fully understand her struggle over who to believe in the rape case: her brother or one of her closest friends. All the characters, even the minor players, have depth and range, which sometimes seems all too rare in YA novels.

Readers will get insight into what gay, bi, and nonbinary teens go through, both in their inner struggles and in dealing with the ignorance of others. And while it is admirable that Blake takes on so many issues in one book -- rape, consent, victim shaming, sexual and gender orientation, sexist dress codes, feminism, family dynamics, male privilege, bullying -- it feels like she's on overdrive, trying to cram too much into one novel. Sometimes Blake hits the reader over the head with her messages, instead of letting the story flow.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • The issue of sexual consent is an important aspect of Girl Made of Stars. Has your family ever discussed this issue? How well do you think books and movies for teens deal with this issue?

  • Have your family members ever experienced challenges or stresses that made them act differently? Do you ever feel ignored or overlooked in your family?

  • Do you have anyone you can talk to about your feelings or things that have happened to you? Are you a person who buries their feelings or do you always let everything out?

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