Let me start with the fine print: I'm reading a lot of YA now because I'm writing YA. I read Made of Stars, the first book I've ever read by Kelly York, because Entangled Teen very kindly invited me to review books for them, and Made of Stars featured an ensemble of heroes. It's a mystery. And, last but not least, it has an absolutely gorgeous cover, a cover that hints at sublime revelations.
See for yourself:
The story is told from alternating first person point-of-view chapters, just like a romance. An interesting use of the romance structure. Hunter and Ashlin Jackson are half-brother and sister; their father impregnated both their mothers within days of each other and ended up not staying with either woman but having both kids with him every summer. This creates a special kind of bond between Hunter and Ashlinn. And both siblings have a special bond with a troubled boy named Chance, a kid their own age who lives near their father's house.
Chance is the reason why anyone who reads this book cannot put it down. He has no chapters written in his own point of view, but his actions and his dialogue make up for that. Hunter and Ashlin first meet Chance when they are all young children, and Chance is staging a "rescue mission," rescuing Barbie dolls from a creek. From then on the three are inseparable-at least when Chance shows up, because sometimes he disappears for days on end. Incredibly, Hunter and Ashlinn don't find out where Chance lives, why he disappears, or even what his last name is until years into their friendship, when they are all eighteen. And even then Hunter and Ashlinn's dad, the cop, has to help them get this information.
Chance is a spinner of tales, and for most of their childhood summers together, Hunter and Ashlinn are content to let him spin them, let him organize their outings and adventures. It's not until someone gets murdered that they have to really come to grips with the fact that Chance has never told them the truth about anything.
This is where this book verges on being brilliant and almost makes it. We appreciate Chance as Hunter and Ashlinn do because he spins an alternate reality for himself, a virtual life that serves as an escape for all three of them. But the one who really needs it is Chance. His options for coping with the pain and ultimate tragedy in his life are limited, while Hunter and Ashlinn are using him as entertainment. It doesn't help that Hunter is drawn so thinly that at first I thought he was a girl, and Ashlinn is written as if she were rather younger than eighteen.
What's great about this book is that, to a certain extent at least, Hunter and Ashlinn realize their complicity in Chance's tragedy, though in the end (the ending is not very satisfying) all they really care about is their own loss. Although it is presented as a love story, it's really about how those who are safe can become complicit in maintaining the status quo of those who are not. The book is morally ambiguous and would make good fodder for discussion.
Made of Stars is author Kelly York's fourth novel for Entangled. You can read more about her here.