Summary: A Galaxy of Sea Stars
In A Galaxy of Sea Stars, we meet Izzy whose dad recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan and is dealing with PTSD while trying to build a new business since he won’t be returning to the war front. Izzy’s mother is away on a neighboring island, taking time away from her marriage under the guise of helping out an extended family member. Izzy herself is feeling a bit lost as her friend group “the sea stars” seems to be changing and Zelda, the queen bee of the group is trying to keep them together by making all three of them join the school’s broadcasting club.
As if things aren’t hard enough, Izzy’s dad introduces her to a friend who’s just moved from Afghanistan with his family and Izzy seems to be saddled with befriending their daughter Sitara who will be attending the same school. Sitara wears a hijab and seems so different from anyone Izzy knows. As Izzy’s friendship issues and Sitara’s being bullied at school collide, Izzy will learn what it means to be brave.
I liked that the story tackles many important tween issues and Izzy’s drama with the sea stars (especially Zelda) felt realistic and akin to Bea’s issues in The Queen Bee and Me. Izzy has a Slovakian grandmother and I loved the connection they have, especially when she relates her experience as a refugee. I didn’t like Izzy’s mother’s actions and her escaping her family while still claiming to love Izzy but barely keeping in touch as she “figured things out,” but that’s life? Also, I figure kids in similar circumstances will appreciate the narrative arc.
The news announcement club(?) was a nice addition to the story and I found Izzy’s performance anxiety to be relatable. Zelda was so mean and it was true-to-life how much Izzy wavered before deciding to act. I liked Sitara, but I liked what she signified even more. Many times she sounded a bit too grown up for her age but that happens to kids who’ve been forced to grow up by life’s circumstances. Her friendship with Izzy provided plenty of growth opportunities for both of them, which made the story more enjoyable. Finally, one cool thing was Zelda’s ocean mapping pasttime. It’ll make for a great STEM connection.
This is one of those books that felt very mechanical to me in many places. It was “effectively” written and touches on many important issues, but I didn’t love the protagonist or Sitara (or anyone really) and just finished it because it was finishable (and on audio).
Overall: A Galaxy of Sea Stars
A Galaxy of Sea Stars is an important middle grade book about embracing differences, welcoming immigrants, and standing up for what’s right. This story highlights many relevant tween issues from friendship drama to peer pressure, parental separation, and adjusting to life changes. It also features positive Muslim representation and a strong STEM connection for kids who like marine life or astronomy.