Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub. Date: 2018
Genres: Contemporary Realistic Fiction, YA
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Mara is a music student who is close to her brother, madly in love with her ex, and writes for an empowering magazine that she founded. While she has been dealing with the aftermath of asking Charlie to be best friends instead of together, her twin brother, Owen, raped one of her best friends, Hannah, at a party. Now she has to figure out how to deal with her brother’s heinous act and how to be a supportive friend at the same time. This is also making her think about her own trauma. Girl Made of Stars, by Ashley Herring Blake, sheds hope and love on the healing process for two girls who have been traumatized.
I will talk about the characters through their relationships. Mara and Hannah are friends, though I didn’t realize it was a closer friendship pre-rape for a little while into the story. If that is true, not much is revealed about their friendship before, except that Hannah and Owen had been dating. I like that Mara was there for Hannah and that they work through their traumas together. They, including Charlie, represent more of what I’ve wanted to see in books and movies where women and girls support each other, especially through such a trauma.
I like that Owen and Mara had a special bond with their stories about the Brother Twin and Sister Twin made of stars and that those stories helped them through their problems. I like that they had a relationship where they could trust each other and calm each other down. I think the way their relationship changes in the aftermath of Hannah’s rape is handled as well as it can be since it’s about Mara’s balancing act between both people she loves. But I wanted to see more direct conflict between the twins, but it would have drastically changed the plot and the characters. For what direct conflict there was, I cried through the more hurtful bits that he did to her.
Finally, I want to talk about Charlie and Mara. Sister Twin is bi. She has been in love with her best friend Charlie, who is non-binary, for years. They’ve been there for each other, even when they have spectacular fights. Charlie is an interesting conflict and rock for Mara in the novel, and I liked Mara’s memories of things that she likes about Charlie. While they’re broken up, she starts becoming interested in a guy she knows.
The writing itself is beautiful, and each word is carefully written on the page. There is a sweet, musical quality to the writing, especially as it gets further along into Hannah and Mara’s melding stories. I suppose it makes sense since most of the characters are music students, but it adds beauty to this story. I also like the metaphors to the myths around different constellations because it ties the Gemini twins’s private moments on the roof of their house.
If you are looking for a young adult book that handles rape and healing from trauma with care, Girl Made of Stars did just that.