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See All the Stars by Kit Frick - Review

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Where did I get it? The library where I go to craft club. It just caught my eye. When I'd brought it home, I realised I had been granted the book on Netgalley, so many thanks to Simon and Schuster for that. I will leave a review on Netgalley even though I read the book in paper. 

What's it about? Ellory is a girl living in Pennsylvania with her parents. The book has a dual narrative, focussing on both her senior year of school and going back in time to the year previous when something terrible happened and Ellory ended up serving a two month suspension from school and now has to attend counselling. 

Ellory is best friends with three girls - Ret, Jenni, and Bex. Ret is the sun in their solar system and the others revolve around her. While they are friends, there's also an undercurrent of competition between the other three. Ret likes to play Ellory and Jenni off against each other. The four of them are somewhat outsiders, I think, although that's partly due to their own design. 

In the summer after her sophomore year, Ellory goes with Ret to Dave Franklyn's party. There, she meets Matthias, a friend of Dave's. The two of them start a relationship that continues throughout their junior year. But Matthias has his own demons. His family is falling apart and he keeps Ellory at arm's length, telling her it's for her own good. She tries really hard to integrate herself into his world by going to gigs with him, but they still never really get to the level she wants to get to. 

Meanwhile, in the present time, Ellory attends counselling and avoids everyone she ever knew at school by ducking through the halls and spending all her time in shop class working on her own art. It's obvious that she needs to make amends with her former friends, but it's not obvious why.

I found the beginning of the book a bit slow going. The drip drip of the past was going a bit too slow for me. But I liked Ellory and I loved the girls' friendships/frenemy thing, so I persevered, and that definitely paid off as I ended up really loving the book as a whole. I really liked the showing of the bad parts of teenage friendship, I loved how the girls interacted. For me, they felt very real - they are messy and fun and angry and they listened to music and painted their nails and borrowed each other's clothes. It rang really true for me. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No, which is something I would have liked to see. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Bex is, I think, but it's not an integral part of the novel. I thought it needed more Bex, actually. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? I guess Ellory has some post-trauma stuff going on, but it's not too bad. 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, it's somewhat graphic. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? They're mentioned, and I'll also mention that there's like a lot of alcohol use and abuse going on. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes. It's quite graphic, although not very long. 

Are there swear words? Maybe a couple, nothing too graphic. 

What criticisms do I have? As I said, I found the beginning a little bit too obtuse for me and I was getting frustrated. I worked out one of the twists, and once I had, the beginning looked a little bit better, but I didn't know that at the time of reading. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Library books have a finite time to be read don't they! 

What do I think of the cover? It's simple but effective. There's a few books with similar looks, I think, like Karen McManus' books. 

What other books is it like? It really reminded me of That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger. 

How many stars? I'm going to give it five out of five because it is really accomplished. 

Where is the book going now? Back to the library! 

See All the Stars was published on the 22nd of August 2019. I was provided with a free electronic copy of the book for review purposes, but was not otherwise compensated for this post. 

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