Hi again everyone! I hope you’re keeping well! Today I’m back with another review (back to normal, safe posts again!) for a book that left me totally speechless! Enjoy!
Title: The Key to You and Me
Author: Jaye Robin Brown
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: Piper Kitts is spending the summer living with her grandmother, training at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, and trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. Much to Piper’s dismay, her grandmother is making her face her fear of driving head-on by taking lessons from a girl in town.
Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, everything changes.
Piper’s not sure if she’s ready to let go of her ex. Kat’s navigating uncharted territory with her new crush. With the summer running out, will they be able to unlock a future together?
Girl Made of Stars follows Mara and her twin brother Owen, who are as close as twins can be – they both adore each other so much and refer to each other as the Gemini constellation. However, one night, after a party by the lake, Mara’s friend, and Owen’s girlfriend, accuses Owen of rape. Mara struggles with the brother she loves having raped one of her friends, all the while he denies it. On top of that, Mara is dealing with the recent breakup with her girlfriend Charlie and the trauma from her past. I picked this book up thanks to the lovely Hsinju, after they recommended it to me based on the fact that the love interest is genderqueer, and I love reading about non-cis characters! I know Hsinju absolutely adores this book, and I really loved it too – it’s an extremely powerful, and very timely, novel that I know will touch so many people’s hearts.
I really like Ashley Herring Blake’s writing style, and this was the first book by her that I’ve read. It’s a very no-nonsense writing style; very easy to read and not overly flowery, Don’t get me wrong, I love flowery writing, but for this book especially, considering the subject matter, I think the writing style suited it perfectly. In general I think the pacing was good – it isn’t a long book by any means, but it got the story across without any loose ends left unresolved.
I think the plot was probably my favourite thing about the book. Mara has to really work through a lot of uncomfortable truths throughout the book, not only the possibility of her brother being a rapist. She has to deal with the recent breakup between her and her ex-girlfriend, who is also going through a bit of a tough time. She is also having to deal with her own trauma – sexual assault at the hands of a teacher she trusted, when she was in middle school. On top of all that, both of her parents are so sure that Owen is telling the truth and that Hannah is lying, leading to a big discussion on victim blaming, which was extremely frustrating to read at times. Although these are all very important topics, none of them overshadow any of the others, and each one is dealt with with the respect and care that it deserves.
The protagonist, Mara, felt very real to me. We saw all her struggles and the author created so much empathy around her situation. She’s not a perfect character, and we see that when she’s arguing with Charlie at the Autumn fair, but she’s very human. Speaking of Charlie, I loved that there was a genderfluid love interest and the whole conversation around their gender was done very well, in my opinion. Charlie plays guitar and writes her own lyrics, but is afraid to tell her parents about this and I think it was a nice storyline that gave her more depth than just being the love interest. Hannah was maybe my favourite character in the book. She dresses in flowy dresses and does tiny little braids in her messy blonde hair. She loves adventure and horoscopes and is just the most precious character! I also really liked Alex, but his storyline is also why I docked half a star. Alex is Owen’s best friend and he and Mara grow closer in the aftermath of the rape. He’s extremely kind and caring and there’s some romantic feelings between him and Mara. However, I think they should have been played on more (and I’m all for sapphic relationships but I honestly think they should have been endgame), although I do understand the author’s reasons for not doing so. It just felt like we were building up to them being in a relationship and then it all fell through.
As I’ve mentioned, the book deals extensively with rape culture and victim blaming and does so very sensitively and to the point. I think this was a really raw and emotional read that I think is a complete must read (but check out the trigger warnings first!).