A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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?
- Author: Ashley Herring Blake
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: May 15, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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