Entangled Teen, 2013
by REBECCA, September 23, 2013
Hunter and his half-sister Ashlin have spent nearly every summer since they were kids at their dad’s house in Maine, with their best friend, Chance, the impulsive, whimsical, and mysterious boy they met at the creek. But after their cop father was shot and needed time to recover, it’s been a while since they were back, and since they’ve seen Chance. Now, in the winter after they graduate high school, both Hunter and Ashlin have put college or future plans on hold to return to their father’s house and take some time to figure things out. Since Chance always had a million excuses why they couldn’t talk on the phone or email, Hunter and Ashlin can’t tell him they’re coming to town, and both are desperate to see him, finally.
When they show up on his doorstep in November, a place they’ve never been allowed to go, they find that the stories Chance has always told them—about his parents’ frequent travel, their nice home, and his life—are lies. His parents’ trailer is run-down, his father violent, and his mother neglectful. How could they never have noticed the signs before? But when they finally catch up with Chance, he’s as captivating as ever and the three fall back into their familiar habits of spending every day together. Indeed, Chance nearly lives at their house. When Hunter’s girlfriend comes to visit for Christmas, though, Hunter has to confront the idea that maybe Chance has always meant more to him than just a friend—and that may mean more than he’s willing to admit.
Made of Stars is a near-perfect story: it’s simple, resonant, and beautifully characterized, and I loved every minute of it. The narrative shifts between Hunter and Ashlin’s perspectives, and it’s through their adoring eyes that we see Chance. Now that they’re eighteen, what was once a sibling closeness takes on a more adult intimacy, and Kelley York does a bang-up job of evoking the tension in this triangle. Chance is like a puppy—easily affectionate, loyal, and sensitive—and Hunter and Ashlin have different reactions to him. Ash realizes that she’s attracted to Chance and wants him to trust her. Hunter realizes that what he’d always taken for friendship may actually be love, and he wants desperately to protect Chance.
The contrast between the warm, familial scenes in Hunter and Ash’s father’s house and the hell that Hunter and Ash suddenly realize Chance has grown up in is gutting. It’s also lovely to see a half-sibling relationship in YA lit that’s close and supportive rather than competitive. Hunter and Ash live with their mothers across the country from each other, and they live for the summers when they get to be together, and with Chance. The idea that both Hunter and Ash have been unable to decide what to do with their lives after high school until they can get back to Maine and see Chance again runs subtly through Made of Stars.
After Hunter and Ash realize that Chance has hidden major things about his life, he’s recontextualized in their eyes, and they want to help him. Chance, however, just wants to forget about his life when Hunter and Ash aren’t around, and to enjoy the time they have together. When Chance’s mother is murdered, though, and Chance becomes a suspect, that becomes impossible. The helplessness that Hunter and Ash feel is tangible on the page, and is a beautiful counterpart to the joy they feel when Chance is around.
The one critique I have of Made of Stars is simply that Ash and Hunter’s voices are never quite distinct enough, so when the perspective shifted, I often found myself looking back to see who was narrating.
As with the first book of hers that I read (and LOVED—see full review HERE), Hushed, Made of Stars is a book about relationships, and the interplay of the characters is the drama. It’s beautifully understated while still leaving me desperate to turn the page and find out what was going to happen next.
Andy Squared by Jennifer Lavoie (2012). Twins Andrew and Andrea have always been the best of friends. When a new kid moves to their school from Texas, and Andrew realizes that his feelings for him may go beyond friendship, it changes his relationship with Andrea dramatically. My full review is HERE.
Stick by Andrew Smith (2011). When Stick’s abusive father finds out that his older brother, Bosten is gay, Bosten has to leave home for his safety. Stick sets off on a grueling road trip to find Bosten. My full review of the really wonderful Stick is HERE.
procured from: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Made of Stars, by Kelley York, will be available October 1st.