What Stars Are Made Of came from Penguin Random House Childrens UK, via Netgalley. I absolutely loved the blurb and was delighted to be granted a review copy.  It’ll be published on Thursday next week.

This is the NetGalley blurb:

Libby is 12 years old. She loves science, will do anything for  her family, and was born with Turner Syndrome.  

When her big sister tells Libby that a brand new baby is on the way, Libby is worried that the new addition to their family will be like her. However, she soon realises that being different is exactly what the world needs.

From the publishers who brought you Wonder comes an astonishingly bold and moving middle-grade debut about family, friendship and the importance of being true to yourself.

With themes surrounding STEM, empowerment and empathy, Sarah Allen has taken her experiences with Turner Syndrome and written What Stars Are Made Of as a heart-warming celebration of individuality.

What Stars Are Made Of

what stars are made ofby Sarah Allen

Twelve-year-old Libby Monroe is great at science, being optimistic, and talking to her famous, accomplished friends (okay, maybe that last one is only in her head). She’s not great at playing piano, sitting still, or figuring out how to say the right thing at the right time in real life. Libby was born with Turner Syndrome, and that makes some things hard. But she has lots of people who love her, and that makes her pretty lucky.

When her big sister Nonny tells her she’s pregnant, Libby is thrilled—but worried. Nonny and her husband are in a financial black hole, and Libby knows that babies aren’t always born healthy. So she strikes a deal with the universe: She’ll enter a contest with a project about Cecelia Payne, the first person to discover what stars are made of. If she wins the grand prize and gives all that money to Nonny’s family, then the baby will be perfect. Does she have what it takes to care for the sister that has always cared for her? And what will it take for the universe to notice? [goodreads]

My Review

I’m not sure I would have picked What Stars Are Made Of from the Goodreads blurb, and as the cover is different from the Netgalley one, I presume that’s the US edition. I prefer the NetGalley blurb and the US cover!

I learned a lot of things from this book. Turner Syndrome is a thing. It’s a big thing, and has physical attributes too, but the emotional and behavioural ones I’d have difficulty distinguishing from Aspergers or AHDC or any of the other behavioural conditions that I am fortunate not to have experienced first hand.

Except that I have experienced them, probably long before they became a Thing. What I found from Sarah Allen’s wonderful Libby, was a warm caring exciting human being who speaks when maybe she should listen, and who gets ideas springing into her head too fast to do anything about half of them. Sometimes I wonder what Thing I suffer from?  Libby seems more normal to me than any of the other boring people in her class. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something about myself.

This is a brilliant story where I also learned about several notable women who had been overlooked in the great handing out of prizes. Some I knew about already, thanks to the push on Women in Science and role models I didn’t know I might have had when I was at school. There are plenty of questions that lead on from that, like:

  • how did these women break the mould without any role models of their own?
  • How come any women did science before the rise of STEM?

Maybe it’s a numbers game; we now know many more women would get involved in STEM subjects if the boys (or teachers) didn’t elbow them out. Actually, I did Maths rather than engineering at university because there were 2 girls in 300 in Engineering whereas Maths was more or less half and half.

This is not a good review. I’m rabbiting about the world and STEM and women in science.

add to goodreads buttonWhat Sarah Allen’s book is about is a young brave, intelligent girl who wants to change the world. And it’s absolutely marvellous. Probably my book of the year.

Book Review | What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen
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2 thoughts on “Book Review | What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen

  • 28 March, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Okay, putting that on my list! You know, there are a lot of books about kids with issues of this sort. I had thought it was that kind of “issue book” thing, but maybe you are onto something: people like that (like us?) are more interesting! 😀

    • 29 March, 2020 at 1:20 pm

      Especially in the current situation, I realise that actually, I am not like other people. I know that sounds obvious, since each of us is unique, but why else would ‘other people’ be ignoring lockdown, having withdrawal symptoms because of it, besides voting for this crap government who just wanted us out of the EU.
      Fortunately, I have like-minded friends 🙂

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