Release Date: May 15, 2018
Received From: NetGalley
“I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”
Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie.
As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.
GENDER: cisgender, genderqueer
SEXUALITY: bisexual, lesbian
TAGS: young adult, contemporary, queer characters, sibling relationships
WARNINGS: rape, rape culture, victim blaming, slurs, gendered slurs, slutshaming, mental illness (anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD), misogyny / sexism, bimisia, pedophilia
Girl Made of Stars is an intense, beautiful, absolutely devastating read. An essential book but one that is incredibly difficult to get through.
This book is an obvious indictment against rape and rape culture, but it also shows the very real, human struggles people go through when something like this happens. The main character, Mara, is torn between one of her best friends, Hannah, and her twin brother, Owen, who Hannah has accused of raping her. Mara obviously struggles in so many different ways, and it makes you want to just hold her hand. Obviously she doesn’t want to believe her brother could rape someone, but she firmly believes in listening to and believing victims. And, as a sexual assault survivor herself, it adds another level of dismay and pain–both in the fact that she knows how it feels to be in Hannah’s position, but also in that, now, she sees her brother and sees an abuser.
As if all of that isn’t difficult enough–for the characters and reader–there’s then the horrific reality of Owen being the one whose voice is heard over Hannah’s, who is believed and sympathized with, while Hannah is called horrible names and accused of making it all up. It’s a real struggle to read because I just wanted to scream at all the characters that it wasn’t Hannah’s fault and she wasn’t making it up and to just believe sexual assault victims.
Honestly, I was on the verge of a panic attack for most of the time I was reading because of how relevant and real the whole book is, especially in our current society.
As far as representation goes, I think Blake did a great job. Mara is bisexual and that is shown in a positive light and as something to be accepted as part of her. Also, the love interest, Charlie, is a genderqueer lesbian and I felt the rep in that are was good as well. I appreciated the scene where it showed Mara and Charlie discussing pronouns (she/her are used throughout the novel as she isn’t out yet), and I also liked the fact that Charlie felt comfortable enough with Mara to openly discuss her dysphoria.
Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. She’s the author of the young adult novels SUFFER LOVE, HOW TO MAKE A WISH, and GIRL MADE OF STARS, as well as the middle grade novel, IVY ABERDEEN’S LETTER TO THE WORLD.