STARRED REVIEW
March 27, 2020

What Stars Are Made Of

By Sarah Allen
Review by

In her stunning debut middle grade novel, Sarah Allen explores themes of family loyalty and personal resilience and resolve, wrapping them up in a clever story of science, how the universe works and how stars can truly guide the way.

Share this Article:

At one time or another, most people find themselves making a quid pro quo deal with the universe. In Sarah Allen’s What Stars Are Made Of, 12-year-old Libby does just that. But rather than asking the universe for fortune or fame, she’s making an unselfish wish: She wants her niece to be born healthy.

Libby is a charismatic and brainy narrator. She was born with Turner syndrome, a genetic condition that means she’s missing an X chromosome. Turner syndrome makes some things more difficult for Libby, but science is not one of them. So when she enters a science contest with an entry about her favorite scientific figure—Cecelia Payne, the woman who discovered what stars are made of—she’s determined to win so that she can use the prize money to help her financially-challenged older sister.

That’s where Libby’s deal with the universe comes in. If Libby wins and gives the money to her sister, the universe will ensure that her niece will be born healthy and not share any of the challenges Libby herself experiences. If she gets her wish, Libby reasons, “Instead of missing a piece in my own body, I’d fix a missing piece in the lives of the people I loved.”

In her stunning debut middle grade novel, Allen, who was also born with Turner syndrome, explores themes of family loyalty and personal resilience and resolve, wrapping them up in a clever story of science, how the universe works and how stars can truly guide the way. What Stars Are Made Of is a tender portrait of a compassionate heroine trying to make things right in her universe and in the lives of the people she loves. Allen is a remarkable new voice in children’s fiction.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres every Tuesday.