The image of stars is a favorite in poetry. And two of my favorite recent reads invoke this very image in the title.
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass was the 2012 winner of the California Young Reader Medal in the Middle School/Junior High category, and it is a noteworthy book indeed.
Ally, age thirteen, lives at the Moonshadow campsite and loves her home-schooled life and remote campsite retreat with its focus on astronomy. Another thirteen-year old, "Bree," is a misfit in her intellectual, science-loving family. She lives for her model good looks and her place in the "A-list" clique at school. Jack is a thirteen-year old overweight boy with no friends and an unstable family history who has retreated into drawing and reading in his treehouse. These are the three characters who take turns telling their stories as the Moonshadow campground is hosting a gathering of followers of eclipses to view a total eclipse of the sun. To their mutual horror, Ally has discovered that her family plans to move to the city and put her and her brother into public school, and Bree's parents are moving with her younger sister and her to be the new caretakers of the Moonshadow.
Ally, Bree, and Jack, three unlikely characters to come together, bond through their experiences and even hardships at the campground and each are put on paths to profoundly grow and change. This book highlights astronomy, inviting interest and knowledge of this topic to an otherwise psychologically realistic read. This is a book that even a reluctant reader might enjoy, as it was a favorite children's choice pick award winner in many states. More about the author and her blog may be found here.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is another run-away into Teenland book by this author. The book was briefly discussed in the former blog titled "Good Book, Bad Covers," but I am compelled to elaborate here. There is no shortage of readers as it has been on the bestseller and Orange County Library hold list from the beginning. But this review is for the teen or adult reader, looking for one of those cry-and-die novels, or perhaps a reader of teen romance, recommending a book that will take them to another level.
Hazel Grace is a high school girl with advanced cancer who is forced by her parents to join a support group. And so are introduced, frequently with humor, a cast of characters with cancer and a wry insight into the dynamics of the support group. She reluctantly finds herself attracted to a former basketball star who has lost his right leg; he has a prosthetic, but all of his good looks. Hazel holds back because she is hanging on with the the help of an experimental medication and her oxygen supply, but it is unknown for how long.
They connect over her infatuation with a book called An Imperial Affliction by a Dutch author who has left the characters hanging and seems to be unavailable to respond to readers' pleas for another book, or even any correspondence at all. But when their determined quest leads to a slim possibility to fly to the Netherlands and meet the author in person, the suspense deepens as well as the romance.
Green takes us with reality and with humor into the lives of teens, or any cancer patient, and reminds us that besides the cancer and often unkind physical assaults to cope with, and the hovering people who love them, that they bear the burden of worrying back and establishing the normalcy in their lives beyond the frequently awkward perceptions of others.