Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Mara is lucky to have Owen in her life. He’s her twin brother and one of her best friends. But when Hannah, one of Mara’s best friends, accuses Owen of raping her, all of Mara’s relationships turn complicated. Mara’s ex-girlfriend Charlie begs Mara to face reality and believe Hannah’s word. Hannah is emotionally broken in the aftermath of her trauma but desperately wants to connect. However, Mara’s parents insist that Hannah must be mistaken and are standing by their son’s word no matter what. Mara wishes she could do the same, but something tells her that Owen might not be telling the truth. Though she wishes this weren’t happening, she cannot deny the sneaking suspicion that she does not know her brother or what he is capable of as well as she thought she did. As she grapples with all of these concerns, memories of her own hidden trauma threaten to break her open. In light of Hannah’s accusations, Mara isn’t sure how she can possibly keep her secret any longer.
Girl Made of Stars explores the impact that a rape case has on a student and friend who has also suffered sexual abuse. This book features characters that belong to underrepresented populations. Not only is the main character openly bisexual and dating a girl, but the girl she is dating is genderqueer. The rape itself is never described in explicit detail, so while the entire story is focused around a case of forced sex, the emotions behind the abuse are the greatest focus. The character of Owen is hugely important to the ongoing conversation about rape and consent. There is certainly a conflict between who Owen seems to be and what he did. Rather than making him an obviously unlikable and violent character, author Ashley Herring Blake chooses to make the situation more complex by portraying Owen as a loving brother and respectful person. This causes conflict within Mara but also within the reader, as they must accept that seemingly good people are capable of doing terrible things.
*Contains severe language, mild violence, and moderate sexual content.