I love books from all genres, but right now I'm on a mystery, contemporary, and YA kick. I have two cats, Monkey and Peepers.
I don’t think I can put into proper words my feelings about Kelley York’s writing. Thus far, she’s always written LGBT young adult fiction with broken boys. But really, that’s putting her prose far too simply. She always writes with an authentic voice that somehow manages to come across childlike, but adult. A voice that manages to sound innocent, but jaded. A story that shows humans can easily be both good and bad. She writes stories that make me think, make my heart break in tiny pieces, and make me look at things surrounding me in new ways. She inspires me simply put.
Made of Stars is a complex story of three teenagers on the precipice of discovering who they are, what they want in life, what they are willing to sacrifice and give up, and what they are willing to fight for at all cost. Hunter Jackson and his half-sister Ashlin meet the boy they will grow to love, as they mature, by the water one summer. Chance, the boy the author describes perfectly as “strangeness and whimsy in human form.” I don’t think I can tell other readers how large my love for Chance was throughout this book. He’s both truth and lies, strength and vulnerability; he’s a boy who loves animals and sad movies, that never stops dreaming because it’s the only thing keeping him going, other than a love deep in his heart for boy he considers his haven. And for Hunter and Ashlin, Chance was their summer. He’s adventure, spontaneity, and sunshine. He’s an escape from their normal lives, and something they look forward to during those cold months away from their summers visiting their dad.
The real start of this novel begins in November. Ashlin and Hunter have graduated from high school and have decided to take a year off before deciding whether or not to attend college. Ashlin lives in California normally with her mom, and Hunter lives in Maine with his mom and her boyfriend, Bob, about four hours away from their dad, in Otter’s Rest, Maine. When Ashlin and Hunter arrive for their first winter, they don’t immediately see Chance, and it’s nerve-wracking because they haven’t been home to see their dad (or Chance) in two years due to an injury their father suffered. However, as soon as they see Chance everything goes right back as if they were all kids again. Except things aren’t quite what they seem. Ashlin still holds out for Chance’s attention, but he only has eyes and room in his heart, in that way, for Hunter. When Hunter’s girlfriend comes for a visit in Christmas, all of the relationships change. Things that have been buried come to the surface and teenagers have to face some harsh truths about themselves, the people they love, and what makes up the idea of a family. Feelings of guilt, shame, envy, awakening, and joy take over their young bodies throughout these months.
This book is slow at times, but it’s an enjoyable pace. The writing is quite sparse, yet it says so very much. It’s poetic, but at the same time, I can clearly see a real person speaking these words, having these internal monologues within themselves. There is that joy of snow, the adventure of an island, tall tales and scary truths, and the sense of family and what you make of it.
Kelley York shines, as always, in her character studies. Whenever I finish one of her books, I feel as if a part of me was torn away when I put the book down, as if leaving her characters rips them from my life. I worry about them, I love them, and I just want the best for them. To me, that’s what books are about and what brings me joy. What I most appreciate, though, is she will make you work to love each one of them or emote understanding for individuals you’d otherwise never would.
Ashlin is such a wonderful, selfless, brave young woman. A caring daughter, a giving sister, a devoted friend. She, also, recognizes emotions and feelings of other characters in such simple, understanding ways. I loved when she understood why she wanted Chance, and it correlated so perfectly of what she thought Hunter and Rachel’s relationship held, and even more when she saw the truth between Hunter and Chance. Hunter is that all-American boy whose story should be so simple, if this was just any fairy-tale story. And Chance…Chance is best left for the reader to discover on their own, but I heart him so very, very much.