Friday, 10 August 2018

Review for Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Girl Made of Stars 
by Ashley Herring Blake 
Publisher: HMH Books
Release: 15th May 2018
Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT+
Source: ARC gifted from a friend

""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 and best friend since childhood, 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." 

Mara's just trying to get through her break up with her ex-girlfriend Charlie and write for her school's feminist newspaper when her world comes crashing down around her. Mara's twin brother and rock Owen has been accused of rape. The victim? Her best friend Hannah. Mara knows that Owen would never, could never, do such a thing. But she also knows Hannah and she would never lie about something like that. As Mara tries to navigate this new world and make sense of what happened that night memories of her own concealed trauma come back to her and Mara is finally forced to confront her own truth.

Girl Made of Stars was one of my most anticipated books of 2018, the impossible situation Mara finds herself in felt like such a timely and important subject matter that I was so ready for and despite such high expectations this book did not let me down at all. I'm not sure I have the words to eloquently articulate how much I loved this book. It was everything I needed a book about victim blaming and female solidarity to be.

One of the aspects I loved about this book is that Mara and her mother both identify as feminists, yet they still desperately wanted to believe Owen's version of events. One of the most important messages this book holds is what a grey area rape can be. Men we love and respect can rape, people in relationships can be raped, women who have had sex with their attacker before can be raped and when those women step forward with their stories they deserve to be believed and supported in ways that the legal system and society is not doing right now. I loved the message at the heart of this story on the importance of believing women, even when it's easier not to.

There is so much diversity in this book which I always appreciate, and I loved the complicated relationship Mara had with her ex-girlfriend Charlie and her own sexuality. Another thing this book does so well is show the after effects of abuse and the trauma that follows. It's something I could personally relate to and my heart broke reading about these girls, their broken parts and their inner strength. I loved how Ashley Herring Blake didn't shy away from the harsh truths of rape culture. This book holds no easy answers, but it does offer hope and show that there is life after abuse. Girl Made of Stars is a truly beautiful yet heartbreakingly important read that I can't recommend enough.

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