How could something so heartbreaking be so full of hope? This question remained in the back of my mind as I read Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake.
As twins, Mara and Owen share an unbelievable bond. Ironically, it is this bond that threatens to tear them apart. When Owen is accused of rape, and the victim is Mara’s best friend, Hannah, Mara’s world begins to spiral. Her family expects she will support her twin, Owen, citing that this is all a “misunderstanding”. Mara’s bond with both the accuser and the victim makes it hard for her to make sense of the situation: “I need Owen to explain this. Because, yes, I do know Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”
Challenged to find truth, Mara reveals a long buried trauma of her own, and begins her own journey of healing and hope.
In Girl Made of Stars, Ashley Herring Blake tackles many tough issues: rape, sexuality, anxiety, and gender identity. From the ripple down effects that sexual assaults create on the lives of the victims and those close to them, to the struggle with one’s inner conflict, this young adult novel tackles tough issues. With well-developed, diverse, and complex characters, who are both very likeable and very flawed at the same time, Girl Made of Stars makes for a powerful read.
With Girl Made of Stars, Ashley Herring Blake facilitates conversations about so much more than the literature and writing style. This novel sets the stage for discussions about consent, anxiety, victim blaming, and other important questions that teens may be facing.
Erma Appleby is an English Language Arts teacher at Oromocto High School, in Oromocto, New Brunswick. She enjoys the discussion that literature can ignite and the role that it plays in our lives.