Review Blog

May 13 2020

What stars are made of by Sarah Allen

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Puffin Books, 2020. ISBN: 9780241427965.
(Ages: 10+) Highly recommended. Twelve year old Libby Munroe has Turner Syndrome. She is missing a chromosome, her heart is three times too big for her body and she copes with other physical and neurological conditions that become evident throughout the story. Added to this Libby has incredible resilience and stamina, a brilliant brain and a love of all things Science related. Her parents are her greatest supporters as well as her older married sister Nonny who lives in another state but returns home when her husband is retrenched. Nonny is pregnant and this becomes a worrying time for Libby. She comes up with a plan to support her sister and keep the baby safe. Libby excels in her school work and when the opportunity arises to take part in a national Smithsonian Women in STEM contest Libby utilises this to firstly study her favourite female scientist Cecilia Payne and secondly to help Nonny's family. This is not an easy path chosen by Libby and along the way she builds a relationship with her American History teacher Ms Trepky, and more importantly finds friendship with the new girl Talia who is subjected to bullying and like Libby struggles to be accepted. This is Libby's first real experience of friendship and both girls support each other through difficult times.
There are some challenging events in the story and the clever use of short chapters to convey the seriousness of one such event gives the reader a distinct indication of the possible heartbreak to come. The author Sarah Allen has Turner Syndrome and the details that she shares naturally with the reader leads to a growing understanding of the complexities of the condition.
Libby is an endearing and honest character whose telling of the story will engage the reader to the very end. The story is cleverly told in the first person narrative and the reader will feel Libby's heartfelt attempts at friendships, her disappointments and struggles, and her deep love and concern for her family. Themes: Family, Turner Syndrome, Medical Conditions, Friendship, School Bullying, STEM.
Kathryn Beilby

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