Girl Made of Stars

Girl Made of Stars

by Ashley Herring Blake


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For readers of Girl in Pieces and The Way I Used to Be comes an emotionally gripping story about facing hard truths in the aftermath of sexual assault.

Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780358108221
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 07/30/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 125,333
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Ashley Herring Blake used to write songs and now she writes books, including Suffer Love and How to Make a Wish. She reads them a lot too and has been known to stare wistfully at her bookshelves. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and two sons. Visit Ashley at and on Twitter at @ashleyhblake.

Read an Excerpt


Charlie refuses to answer my texts. Or she has her phone set on silent. Or she forgot to charge it. Or she had a rare fit of temper and tossed it into a toilet, thereby rendering it unusable.
     Whatever the case, this lack of communication between us is decidedly not normal.
     I stare at my phone for a few more seconds, analyzing my last text to her. It’s a simple question—​Will you be at the Empower meeting next week?—​so I don’t understand why she won’t answer it. Yes or no. How hard is that? Then again, Charlie’s never missed an Empower meeting, so she probably sees right through my desperate attempt at indifference.
     Groaning at the still-blank screen, I toss the phone onto my bed and slide my window open. An early autumn breeze ghosts over my skin and hair, bringing with it the smell of burning leaves and cedar from the rocking chairs on our front porch. Throwing a leg over the sill, I twist my body through the window and onto the porch’s flat roof. In the distance, the setting sun drizzles the last bit of color through the sky, lavender fading to darker violet. The first stars are blinking into view and I lie down on the gritty shingles, my eyes already peeling through the almost-dark for Gemini. You can’t really see the constellation this time of year, but I know those twins are hiding somewhere in the west.
     “There they are,” Owen says as he climbs through the window and settles next to me. He waves his hand off toward the east.
     “You’re so full of shit.”
     “What, they’re right there.”
     “That’s Cancer . . . or something.”
     “I know my twins, woman.”
     I laugh and relax into the familiarity of the scene. Owen, messy-haired and clad in flannel and slim-fit jeans, full of astrological pomp and circumstance. We lie quietly for a bit, night sounds growing thicker with the dark.
     “Once upon a time . . .” Owen whispers, and I smile. This is familiar too, all of his bravado softening into this: my twin brother spinning stories under a domed sky.
     “. . . a brother and a sister lived with the stars. They were happy and had wild adventures exploring the sky,” I continue, filling in the beginning of our story the way we always have since we were kids.
     “One day, they went out searching for true love,” Owen says.
     “Oh my god, you’re such a sap.”
     “Shut up—​my twin does what I want.”
     “Fine.” I stare at a spot of darkening sky, hoping to catch a shooting star. “But Sister Twin didn’t care about true love, so—”
     “Oh, I’m full of shit?”
     “—​she decided to seek her fortune in a nearby galaxy.”
     “But on her way, she caught a glimpse of Andromeda and thought, Screw fortune, give me that ass!
     “You are a vile human being.”
     “I’m not a human at all. I’m a constellation.
     “Half of a constellation.”
     “The better half.”
     I groan dramatically and try to shove Owen’s shoulder, but he dodges me and hooks his arm around my neck, blowing a raspberry into my hair.
     “Speaking of better halves,” he says when he releases me, “why isn’t Charlie attached to your person right now? Wait, is she in your pocket?”
     He leans into me as if he’s trying to look into my literal pocket and I push him away. “These leggings don’t have any pockets, and you know why she’s not here right now.”
     His mouth forms a little circle. “Right.” He squints at me, then shakes his head. “No, sorry. I can’t imagine one of you without the other.”
     My smile fades and I sit up, wrapping a lock of hair around my forefinger. Charlie’s always loved playing with my hair and plaiting the ends into little braids. It’s a years-old habit, born freshman year when I sat in front of her in American Lit and my nearly waist-length waves spilled over the back of my chair. Starting school that year had me tied into a million little knots, but Charlie’s long fingers weaving through my hair relaxed me, helped me focus and feel like me again. Right now, with my best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-ex-girlfriend bricking a wall of silence between us, I feel everything but.
     “Which is exactly why I broke up with her now,” I say. “Before it’s too late.”
     Owen coughs “bullshit” into his hand, an intimation I decide to ignore.
     “We’ll be okay,” I say. “Remember two years ago when I convinced her I could give her an awesome haircut?”
     “Mara, you butchered her hair. It was like a faux hawk on meth.”
     “Which led to her getting it fixed by a professional the next day, giving rise to her beloved swoop. So really, she should’ve thanked me.”
     “Pretty sure she didn’t talk to you for a week.”
     “And we got through it. You’re only proving my point.”
     He tilts his head toward me. “This is a bit different from a haircut, Mar.”
     I swallow through the sudden ballooning in my throat. My fingers itch for my phone, my mind already forming another text, just to check on her. Maybe I should tell her I’m going to the party at the lake with Owen and Alex. Surely she’d at least grace me with a craughing emoji. Instead, I make myself stay put, literally pressing my butt into the roof.
     “We’ll be fine,” I say. Because we will. We have to be.
     Wheels crunch over gravel, pulling our attention to the driveway and Alexander Tan’s sunshine-yellow Volkswagen Bug pulling to a stop in front of our house.
     “I’m never going to get over his car,” I say, getting to my feet and brushing roof grit off my tunic dress.
     “He’s lucky he’s not driving around on a Huffy beach bike. Besides, he loves that thing. Even keeps little flowers in the vase by the steering wheel.”
     “Only when you put them there. Are you two courting?”
     Owen feigns shock as his best friend steps out of his car. Alex’s hair is so dark, it blends in with the rest of the night and nearly disappears. The rest of him is very, very visible. Checkered button-up under a snug gray sweater. Slim dark jeans and boots. He’s the definition of dapper as hell.
     “You ready for this?” Owen asks me, standing and stretching like a cat.
     “Oh yeah,” I deadpan. “A night of dodging guys with beer breath and perpetual boners. Can’t wait.”
     “Maybe they’ll leave you alone if they think you’re still with Charlie. I don’t think the breakup is common knowledge yet.”
     I snort a laugh. Thinking I’m not single is the last thing that will keep some of the cretins masquerading as teenage boys at our school from harassing me. It was bad enough when I came out as bisexual last year, but to date a girl? It’s nothing but threesome jokes and passive-aggressive slut shaming every time I venture into the hallway. Lucky for me, Empower’s monthly newspaper is pretty widely read this year, so I get to eviscerate every last one of those jerks on a regular basis. At least on paper.
     “Why are you on the roof?” Alex calls, hooking his thumbs into his jean pockets and peering up at us.
     “Thought we’d catapult ourselves into the car tonight,” I say. “Sound good to you?”
     “Blood and I aren’t exactly friends.”
     “Pansy ass,” Owen mutters as he curls his body back through the window. He and Alex have one of those annoying bro-hate-love relationships. The three of us have known one another since the first grade, when we all sat at the same table in Mr. Froman’s class and shared a box of crayons and safety scissors. They constantly berate and nag each other but can barely go a few hours without texting. They’re like Charlie and me . . . without all the queerness.
     And recent and extreme awkwardness. Let’s not forget that.
     “Um . . . want me to catch you or something?” Alex asks, and I realize I’ve been staring down at him for a good minute.
     I inch toward the ledge, dangling one foot into empty space. “Maybe . . .”
     “Mara McHale, don’t you dare.” He stumbles toward me and holds up his hands, his long violin-playing fingers splayed wide as if he could really break my fall if I took a dive.
     “Don’t tell me what to do,” I say, letting my foot continue to hang over the edge.
     “Don’t be stupid.”
     My lip curls involuntarily. “Don’t be a brute.”
     “Don’t be so . . . mean.”
     The tension leaves my body and I can’t help but laugh. Alex never could execute a good comeback. It’s sort of adorable.
     “Good god, Mar, stop antagonizing the entire human population,” Owen calls as he bursts out of the front door below me. He claps Alex on the back and peers up at me. “Let’s go. We all need a drink.”
     I don’t know about a drink, but I sure as hell need something. Climbing back through the window, I force myself to leave my phone pillowed in my blue down comforter.
     Two can play the ignoring game.

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Girl Made of Stars 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Bookyogi 11 months ago
4.5 stars I knew nothing about the author going in to this book yet I know she understands and must have lived through much of what is contained in this book. At times it was hard to read because I just wanted justice for Hannah and Mara and all those who have been violated. But the author keeps it real and doesn’t shy away from the hard questions or the consequences of actions which, in this case, are life changing.
CrossroadReviews More than 1 year ago
I am sitting here in front of my computer where I have just finished Girl Made of Stars by Ashely Herring Blake and I have to tell you that I have no clue how I am going to tell you about this book. This book is one of a kind and is one that will be sticking with me for a while. It was emotional, deep, and eye opening to our world that needs to change. First off there are some trigger warnings that you should know about if you are going to read this one. Please make sure to check those out below in my list of Go into this one knowing. I myself am a survivor of being molested on more than one occasion when I was younger so I fully understand how these topics might be to much for someone who has survived it. So please be aware of those warnings. This book broke me. That is about what I feel right now. It will open your eyes to a world that you will not be able to unsee. This book follows Mara whom is bisexual. Who's twin brother gets accused of raping his girlfriend. Mara is then stuck in the middle of this situation of deciding who to trust and who to call out. It was a no win place to be for her. I have to say that the author did a perfect job with this aspect of the book. You could feel Mara's emotions about how much she wanted to trust her brother but knowing something wasn't right. But also still not waiting to believe that he could do something like this. This felt like a story that could have been pulled from the headlines and I believe that it is one that needed to be told. This book was full of true emotional authenticity that I have EVER seen in a story. Another aspect of this book is a small love triangle between Mara's ex girlfriend Charlie whom is nonbinary. And another boy that she gets with for a short amount of time. You could really see how everyone was just trying to deal with the situation at hand and move on. And Mara and Adam were just trying to find comfort in any place they could. A major part of this story dealt with Mara and her own secret trama. Early on in the story you learn that something happened to her three years ago. But you don't find out until way later in the book where it is all set before you. I have to say that her entire experience of what happened to her was one that triggered me to no end. When I was 10 to 11 years old I had the same thing happen to me over the course of a year or so. But it was my mother's boyfriend and not a teacher that abused me in that way. The trauma of rape and having your freedom taken away, of having your trust violated, in a world where girl's bodies are distractions, where society refuses to believe you is what this book is ultimate about. And I have to say that the author did a fantastic job with it. This is the story that should be in the hands of every teen out there. That even if you believe that no one is going to believe you. Believe in yourself that you know what happened and that you said NO. Don't let anyone take away your right to say that to have your voice heard! Go Into This One Knowing: Rape Allegations, Rape, Abuse via a Teacher, Nonbinary, Bisexuality, Love Triangle
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank me later. PS I need more Alex Tan in my life.
EllenRozek More than 1 year ago
GIRL MADE OF STARS is as much a story of friendship as it is a story of sexual assault, and it's Mara's friendships--with Charlie, her best friend and ex-girlfriend, Hannah, the girl who accuses Mara's twin brother Owen of rape, and Alex--that form its beating heart. And though it would've been all too easy for the author to manufacture drama by forcing her characters to choose sides, their struggles feel far more realistic and poignant because of how conflicted they are about what takes place between Owen and Hannah. The #1 thing that endeared me to Mara was the tightrope she struggled to walk between wanting to believing her twin brother, who she knows better than anyone, and knowing she can't. Other things I really appreciated and enjoyed include: The slow reveal of Mara's own history with sexual assault, and its lingering impact on her personal life and her personal relationships. The relationship between Mara and Charlie, which was tender and sweet and fraught with uncertainty, as well as the subtlety with which Charlie's gender identity issues were woven into the narrative. The ways in which the story dismantles the idea that rapists are strangers in bushes and reminds readers and characters alike that they're people you love, or trust, or look up to more often than not. The prose, which was punch-you-in-the-gut powerful. Basically, this book is as important as it is compelling and I think everyone should read it.
BookPrincessReviews More than 1 year ago
Oh, wow, just wow - this book. I'm going to attempt to say some words for this book, but I'm probably going to fail. CW: sexual assault/rape. There are some intense sequences featuring the rape scene and it is throughout the book. I've seen a lot of five star reviews for this book, and trust me, the hype is real for this book. It's beautiful. It's deep. It's moving in so many ways. It's full of intense characterization and it is so real that it hurts. It really hurts. The characters were wonderful - wonderful in their realness, their honesty, and their depth. Each one has intriguing and detailed complexities to them. Blake did a wonderful job with making them so real and like they were easy enough to be best friends with and see their POV. Mara was a stunning narrator, and I understood where she was coming from every step of the book. I went on a journey with her, and I got her anger, her pain, and more. She is so incredibly strong, and she is so easy to relate to. She's in a terrible position, and she completely understands the gravity of the situation. She also is incredibly fierce and feminist, and I loved being in her voice - and is truly a YA heroine that we need. The other characters were incredibly well done as well. I had a hard time with Owen. I understood Mara's struggle since he was her loving twin, but I believed Hannah the moment she made the accusation, so it was hard to feel much sympathy for him. Hannah and Charlie and Alex were also fantastic and well done and I loved them all in their own ways. They were brilliant and they just felt so realistic and just so well done. Like, I don't even know how to explain any of this, other than incredibly well done? The diversity great as well. Mara is bisexual, Charlie is nonbinary, Mara and Hannah are sexual assault survivors, and Alex is Asian. And the romance? It was moving and adorable and my heart was just a bowl of feels the entire time. I really am having such a hard time with this review, because I just can't think of words for this. It's an incredibly deep, heartbreaking story. It makes me mad at the world because this is the world we live in. Where men are always at the advantage. This book takes on rape culture where the woman is always doubted first most likely and how the patriarchy still rules (so so so many fantastic feminism moments in here as well). It's a book that's meant to disrupt and make you want to scream in rage because life always isn't a happily ever after and the realness Blake brings in here hurts your heart and soul. It's the book people need to be reading - but really watch out for the triggers - because it is just so important. I don't think I'll be getting this book out of my head any time soon. 5 crowns. I can't come up with anything more to describe how well done this book was.
AReadingRedSox More than 1 year ago
There really are not words for how magnificent and beautiful and heart-wrenching GIRL MADE OF STARS is. Ashley Herring Blake handles a bevy of difficult topics with an enormous amount of nuance and grace. I think the thing that struck me the most was how real Mara was--her journey, her emotions, her experiences. This is a must-read for anyone and everyone who can handle the subject matter; one of the most important and impactful books I've ever read.
INpurplereader More than 1 year ago
When something is taken care or stolen from you, wanting justice is a normal reaction. When you are a girl who has been taught to do your best in everything and someone questions that, it may derail you. When you want to both scream and cry at the top of your lungs and desire to hide in the safety of silence, you may understand the characters in this young adult novel on a deep level. Ashley Herring Blake has written Girl Made of Stars for everyone, not merely young girls or teens. Deceptively simple, this novel has Mara as a fairly typical high school student in a Tennessee prepatory high school for the performing arts. One difference is that she also has a twin brother with whom her closeness has been almost envied by friends and other students. Blake adds many layers, both subtle and hard hitting as the story unfolds. Since the fly leaf tells this part, I don't consider it a spoiler. Mara'so twin brother is accused of rape by one of her dear friends. Mara was at the party, but she had a friend take her home early. This event causes Mara to have flashbacks to a time when she was hurt by someone when she was only in middle school; she has never told anyone what happened to her for fear of not being believed. Layers. Mara is also bisexual. Her best friend Charlie, a gay girl with her own gender issues, has become a girlfriend but they recently decided to go back to being only best friends. Mara also started a girls' group at her school called Empower as a place where students can come to discuss any issues they have questions about or which confuse or anger them. Lots of layers, but don't worry because Blake is adept at balancing the focus on the assaults, life at school, teen friends, the legal system, and family. While the book handles mature subjects, it never goes too far, in my opinion. She does not seek to titillate or shock readers, except perhaps into action after reading this book. This is a great book for teens facing gender issues of their own, for anyone who has been sexually assaulted, or for anyone interested on what it is like to be a teen today. Girl Made of Stars not only has a solid plot, though you may not care for the realistic ending, it could be an important resource to have available, just in case.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really gives out good vibes
xokristim More than 1 year ago
This book was stunningly written. From the first sentence on it was just pure joy reading Ashley’s poetic writing style. The pieces of astronomy that was thrown in sporadically really helped add to the story, and were so interesting. This book really showed the way a rape accusation affects everyone involved not only the two people. It affects family relationships as well as friendships, especially when the accusation hits so close to home. The character descriptions were excellent, I felt like I could see them and their personality from the moment they were introduced. I felt like hearing from both twins was very important throughout the novel. Mara was put in such an awful position, to believe her twin brother, or one of her best friends. She was torn, Hannah was being blamed and treated awful, while her brother was seen as this great person even after the accusation. I felt very connected to Mara, like her I suffer from severe panic attacks and PTSD. I feel like all the topics covered throughout the book were done with the utmost respect and sensitivity. There was a bit of a love triangle, so if that is a main selling point warned. I will say it is not the main focus by far, so please try not to let that deter you from reading this stunning novel. I feel that it focused way more on friendships and family relations. I absolutely adored this book and it will definitely be making my top reads list this year.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
This story was amazing. It was heartbreaking and hard to read and so amazing. I love love loved Mara. I love her strength, especially when she thinks she doesn’t have any. I love her loyalty and her stubbornness and her empathy and her everything. She’s a fantastic MC. Plot wise it was more than just a story about rape. It was a story about surviving, enduring, and sometimes just dealing. It is a hard look at consent and victim blaming and it is so so so important. This review doesn’t even come close to explaining how I feel about this book. **Huge thanks to HMH Tee for providing the arc free of charge**