My Rating ~ Five stars
RELEASE DATE: 16 April 2019
Publisher: Candlewick Press/Walker Books
Received from: Walker Books
Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?
Thank you so much to Walker Books for providing me with a copy of Starworld, in exchange for an honest review.
Starworld was such an emotional read, and it left me feeling quite sad at the end. I think that made me like it even more though. So often things are wrapped up in a nice happy ending and that’s usually so far from real life that it feels fake.
Both Sam and Zoe are living lives they’re struggling with, and don’t feel like they can talk to other people about. It’s hard enough for Sam just to navigate school life, and Zoe has always felt as though she needs to portray herself as the perfect girl. When Zoe asks Sam if she can borrow one of her paintings for a play she’s part of, they strike up an unlikely friendship. As a way to escape the pressure of their every day life, they create “Starworld”, a text story they invent as they go along. As Starworld takes shape, their friendship grows and they try and help each other with some of the things they don’t feel comfortable sharing with their other family and friends.
The story that unfolded was heartbreaking on so many levels. From the pain of Zoe’s brother needing to go into care, to Sam’s struggle to know how to help her mother and the trigger for her mother’s OCD, to the ultimate ending of the book, were all devastating. The writing was incredible and easy to read, so I flew through the pages and found myself really enjoying it. As well as crying, there were parts that made me laugh out loud and smile like a goof. There were some really interesting plot twists and this is one I’ll think about for a long time.
Photo from my Instagram account