Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 15, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT
“It’s such a little thing, this skirt. For other girls, maybe it’s makeup or a sport or having sex or not having sex or writing or music or kicking ass in school or wearing your hair so it looks like the sun’s unruly rays. I think every girl has a thing or two, tiny details in her life that say This is me. I’m done hiding. I’m done feeling ashamed.“
Beautiful, raw, heartbreaking, real…Girl Made of Stars is all of these things and more.
I only knew the barest of details when I picked the book up and really had no intention of consuming it so fast. This book is begging to be read and it’s going on my slow growing list of needed reads.
What do you do when your twin commits a crime that changes how you look at them? Mara and her twin Owen are as close as twins get and they rely on each other for everything. That all changes when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape. On top of figuring out the new family dynamic and what to think of it all, Mara is still reeling from her break-up from long-time BFF and ex-girlfriend Charlie. Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain while Mara deals with trauma from her own past. Girl Made of Stars follows the treacherous and gut-wrenching path post-rape and tackles difficult subjects such as consent, assault, and victim blaming.
I didn’t expect this book to move me as much as it did. I discovered this book after looking through the LGBT genre on Goodreads and immediately had to find it at the library after reading the description. After The Hate U Give, I’ve been loving these young adult contemporary novels that are tackling these tough issues and bringing them to light. I don’t remember seeing books like this when I was 15 or 16 and I wish I had found them because they have an impact. I touched on this in my The Hate U Give review but supporting books like Girl Made of Stars and The Hate U Give is really important to pave the path for more books like these. Books have the power to change the world and getting books with difficult-to-talk-about subjects and putting them in the hands of our youth is a good way to educate and give them an outlet to turn to in times of need.
In the interest of honesty, this book isn’t easy to get through. It’s hard to read Mara struggle with the actions of her brother and the implications it has, then on top of that her own trauma she’s grappling with. Much like the description says, it tackles some of the hardest and most controversial subjects: consent, sexual assault, and victim blaming. These subjects pull up questions everyday in the news and we have seen the consequences (or lack thereof) of the actions in the news. Though it’s easy to look at the news and think you’d act a certain way, Mara’s story shows a different side to that. The difficulty of choosing who to believe or not to believe, the consequences of believing one side over the other, personal morals, family issues…the whole nine. When assault gets brought up in the news it’s easy to think it’s all black and white, but Girl Made of Stars shows just how gray it is. And Mara says it perfectly when she states it’s not the act that’s gray, it’s the fallout.
This is a must read and it’s only 295 pages long so it is a quick read, too. Don’t mistake the length for a lack of depth into this subject. Ashley Herring Blake packed a lot of emotion in the space she had allotted and it hit hard. I only just finished but I’d whole-heartedly read it again to pick up details I missed the first time. I encourage you to check this out if these types of subjects are something you’re comfortable delving into. These are difficult subjects, but Blake handles it with grace. This book is begging to be talked about and all I want to do is unpack the characters and the plot and talk. The contents of this book needs to be talked about.