I received this book at no cost from the publisherStarworld by Audrey Coulthurst, Paula Garner
Published by Candlewick Press on April 16, 2019
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (April 16, 2019)
Praise for STARWORLD
An unlikely friendship blossoms between two high school seniors…in the deft hands of co-authors Coulthurst (Inkmistress, 2018, etc.) and Garner (Relative Strangers, 2018, etc.), the well-realized main characters and deeply insightful descriptions of complex emotions combine into an unusually thoughtful novel…Readers seeking characters facing challenges with honesty, bravery, and kindness will appreciate this book with its reminder that our outward lives often don’t reflect who we really are. ―Kirkus Reviews
Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?
In a novel in two voices, a popular teen and an artistic loner forge an unlikely bond — and create an entire universe — via texts. But how long before the real world invades Starworld?
I feel like I know Sam Jones, she just wants to be invisible, get through school and finds joy with an online game with her friend. Zoe Miller is almost the exact opposite, popular and with a boyfriend, she has the support of many friends. She also finds refuge from her family life with a disabled brother but when a text message between the two sparks something else, it turns into something more than either intended.
The story explores several deep issues like sexual identity, mental illness, disability and adoption. All of these themes are handled with grace and sensitivity. I liked the two main characters and how the interactions by text were placed in the story with such ease. It all felt natural and believable. Although I didn’t quite get the ending I was looking for, it all works out. Both Sam and Zoe are distinct and not cookie cutter high school girls but have a purpose and I bet you knew someone just like them too.
Paula Garner spends most of her time writing, reading, or making good things to eat and drink. She is the author of YA contemporary novels Starworld, Relative Strangers, and Phantom Limbs, which was a 2017 Illinois Reads selection for grades 9-12. Follow her on Twitter at @paulajgarner.
Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.
Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
- What is on your nightstand?
(Paula): Mostly books and glasses and reading lights.
(Audrey): A light shaped like a fat kitty, a white noise machine, discarded hair ties, and my phone.
- What author would you totally fan?
(Paula): Hmm, the first that comes to mind is Sarah Perry—she’s amazing. The Essex Serpent SLAYED me.
(Audrey): Helen Humphreys. She’s a novelist who used to be a poet and it shows. I wish I could write with her eloquence.
- What makes you cringe?
(Paula): Gum-smacking. Dirty/ungroomed fingernails. Crumbs left on counters. Music or TV on too loud. People who talk too loud. Anything too loud. Too much perfume. Bland food. Omg this question is too easy—I could go on all day.
(Audrey): It occurs to me that maybe Paula and I are friends because we cringe at so many of the same things…
- Do you obsessively plot out each point or just go with the flow?
(Paula): As Audrey can tell you, not only am I rubbish at plotting, but I am also patently incapable of following an agreed-upon plan for the very next chapter.
(Audrey): I am a former pantser converted to the ways of plotting, probably because of my many attempts to wrangle Paula. Spoiler: it never worked.
- Is there a word you love to use?
(Paula): I tend to fall in love with a new (to me) word and overuse it either to try to cement or just to entertain myself. Looking at you, Ouroboros.
(Audrey): Words get stuck in my head the same way songs get stuck in other people’s—it’s not necessarily a good thing. Plecostomus and triumvirate are evergreen favorites of my brain.
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