A Galaxy of Sea Stars

Farrar. Feb. 2020. 208p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374309091.
Gr 4-7–Sixth grader Izzy’s life is changing. Her family has moved from the cottage she grew up in to the marina, her dad has returned from a deployment to Afghanistan with injuries and post traumatic stress disorder, and her mom is spending the summer on Block Island helping with her family’s restaurant. In addition, her dad has invited Dr. Haidary and his family, including Sitara who wears a hijab and goes to her school, to move into the apartment upstairs. Even though Dr. Haidary saved her dad’s life in Afghanistan, Izzy is initially resistant to welcoming the family. At least she has Piper and Zelda, the other two members of the Sea Stars, who have been her best friends since kindergarten. But this year is different; as Izzy starts spending more time with Sitara, she sees the racism and bullying she faces at school, and starts to question her friendship with Piper and Zelda. Numerous issues are addressed including changing family and friend dynamics and bigotry, however Izzy learns to use her voice to speak up for herself and others. While the characters and setting (a quaint coastal town) are strong, the message of tolerance does not totally resonate as Izzy has to reveal past secrets in order for her classmates to embrace Sitara.
VERDICT A solid choice for libraries where titles exploring xenophobia and immigrant experiences circulate well.

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