Title: Girl Made of Stars
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Synopsis: For readers of Girl in Pieces and The Way I Used to Be comes an emotionally gripping story about facing hard truths in the aftermath of sexual assault.
Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.
Girls Made of Stars is one of those books that I bought not long after it was published solely for the cover. I thought it was gorgeous and I knew I wanted it on my shelves. I had a vague idea of the topics that were discussed inside the book, but I tend to like to go into stories fairly blindly so that any opinions I have about the story are completely my own.
One of the prompts for the November game for TBR and Beyond was beautiful cover so I figured it would be a good time to finally get around to this book.
This story has trigger warnings for rape and sexual assault.
“This. This is why I never said anything. Because no one ever believes the girl.”
Girl Made of Stars is one of those stories that makes you think. One that makes you answer those tough questions you never really want to think about. What would you do if someone close to you was accused of doing something horrible to someone else? What if you believed they actually did this horrible thing? How would you deal with things? How would your life change?
When it comes to the topics the story discussed, I think is did an amazing job at it. It’s a topic I feel doesn’t get enough attention. It’s not the easy story to tell. It’s raw and real and it doesn’t hold back when it comes to things. While this caused me to bawl my eyes out so much while reading the story, I really appreciated that it didn’t hold back anything.
‘I can’t believe it,’ I say to Charlie, locked-up with tears strangling my voice. ‘I physically can’t. How can I believe either one of them? How can I not believe them?’
Girl Made of Stars is told from the point of view of Mara. She is the twin sister of the accused and the close friend of the accuser. I actually really liked that the story was told from Mara’s perspective. It gave extra sides to the story and let you into the mind of someone who is close to both the accuser and the accused. It was also heartbreaking to read the story and experience Mara’s turmoil over wanting to believe her twin brother is is innocent and wouldn’t do something like this, while also knowing that her friend wouldn’t lie.
Hannah is a close friend of Mara and is the girl who accuses Mara’s twin brother of rape. I feel that Girl Made of Stars is filled with so many strong female characters and Hannah is definitely one of them. Even though she expresses that she wasn’t sure at first that she was going to say anything, she does say something and that takes such strength. I hated that even though Hannah had the strength to say something, so many people didn’t believe her. This is definitely a parallel on reality. There are so many instances of women speaking up and there being proof and people still don’t believe.
‘The fact that he was my boyfriend and we’d slept together before is a huge issue. Of course no one would believe me.’
Owen is very charismatic and it seems easy to like him. I knew going into the story that Owen was going to be accused of raping someone so I didn’t trust him very much. From what I gathered in the story, he studies hard, but also parties hard. At the beginning of the story he is dating Hannah, which I think is why so many are quick to believe that it can’t be rape. I believe rape is always wrong, but it does seem a little easy to believe Owen as he spreads his story. He never gives off that evil type of vibe and feels more scared than anything.
Definitely the most controversial character in this story to me is Mara and Owen’s mother. She is described as being a feminist and so proud of Mara for fighting for the things she believes in, but then believes that Owen is innocent. Being a mother is so hard. Teaching and helping these small humans grown into members of society is so tough. I can somewhat understand wanting to protect this human that you created and raised, but it also frustrates me because it goes against everything you know about her character.
“Belief isn’t easy. It isn’t black and white.”
While this story touches deeply on the topics of rape and sexual assault, it’s not just solely about that. It does, what I believe is, an excellent job of moving on, growing, and changing as a result of trauma. I feel that is does an amazing job of keeping true to the you of your past, while also showing that you aren’t that person anymore.
‘You’re not a victim. You’re a survivor. You and Hannah both. There’s a difference.’
This is definitely one of those stories where I was emotionally spent afterwards. I had originally planned to read this all in one day and then quickly realized that I most likely wouldn’t be able to handle it all in one day. I ended up reading this over two days and bawled so much more than I think I have in a long time. Crying while reading is something I can say I easily do. To have a story make me cry for the majority of it is a huge feat.
A great representation of struggle and hope and how having a strong support system around you does wonders for you.
Have you read Girl Made of Stars? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you plan to read it in the future?