The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard | SLJ Review

Gr 9 Up –Fifteen-year-old Alice does not communicate the way most girls her age do. Because of a physically and emotionally traumatic injury, she must find alternative ways to express herself.
redstarMillard, Glenda. The Stars at Oktober Bend. 288p. Candlewick. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763692728. Gr 9 Up –Fifteen-year-old Alice does not communicate the way most girls her age do. Because of a physically and emotionally traumatic injury, she must find alternative ways to express herself. Writing bits of poetry is one of her outlets, and she covertly leaves her short verses on walls around town. Her protective brother, Joey, brings her to ballet class and teaches her blurbs of information to make up for her lack of formal schooling. As the two siblings care for their ailing grandmother in their broken-down home, they learn about the hardships of life and the importance of loyalty. When Alice meets Manny, a refugee and former child soldier, she finds solace in the connection they have. Things become complicated as she cautiously begins to trust him. Ultimately, Alice must decide if she can break out of her insulated world and allow hope to prevail. The author writes in an exploratory style, which, at first, might be off-putting and confusing. A few chapters into the story, however, the words and their unique flow become beautifully lyrical, displaying emotion and pain in a way that a linear story line does not always accomplish. Though teens may be hesitant at first, they will be rewarded with a compelling, moving portrait of characters who have been through tragedy and can see through to the other side. VERDICT A heartwarming story that is a worthy addition to high school libraries.–Karin Greenberg, Manhasset High School, NY This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2018 issue.

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