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A good story about inner city life in Harlem. This book is a coming of age tale about friendship, family, and the choices that one has to make as they lay their path towards the future. Well-paced and compelling. Very good diversity of characters (Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Black, LGBTQIA+, autistic). There was even a tear-jerker moment towards the end, for me.
That being said, I found this book to be... challenging. The overall tone felt dark and depressing. There were heavy themes of death, gangs, grief, anger and bullying. However, these all contributed to the story in a meaningful way. But there was also a lot of body shaming/fatphobia throughout the book. It's derisive and distracted from the story, without contributing to it.
I listened to this book and my 13yo daughter read it. Yes, it is more appropriate for the YA age group. However, having worked in inner city schools and with kids exactly like this, it is their reality. The violence, language and life challenges are real. Those kids see this every single day, it doesn't wait for when they are old enough to deal with it. There are reviews about the N word, of course we know this is not to be used, but come on people, the kids use it all the time. The content in this book is real life for so many. Instead of shying away from it, let us get uncomfortable and raise questions with our kids, help them work through these tough issues.
This book has a beautiful story of choosing your own path, not just going with the norms. It addresses tough subjects, some of which are not brought up in other books of the same theme. The idea that adults make bad decisions and they can apologize, that kids can find a new way, that friendships can help bridge new hope. This book is wonderful. Beautiful story of friendship and learning to accept the person you can actually be when you go for it! Bravo!
With writing that is as much raw as it is honest, Moore draws the reader into a Harlem family rampant with issues. Divorce, gang activity, loss of a child, autism, and poverty thread throughout the book, but this is not a bleak read. No, it encourages the reader to do what is right even if it is hard. It reminds the reader that though it may feel as if you are alone, we really are all connected. And The Stars Beneath Our Feet is a nod to creativity, to uniqueness, to being open to all types of people, as well as a love song to poetry and the strength of the teacher-student bond. I loved the narration-Lolly is a remarkable young man. My one complaint, if it is one, is the final sentence in the book. It reminded me of how I teach my kids to write their personal narratives-to end strongly with what Nancie Atwell calls a "so-what." In my humble opinion, Moore is capable of more than a ten year old's 1-2 punch.
"...when you die, they bury you, but your soul flies to the stars. Your mama, your daddy-they were buried under the ground, but they're stars now, girl, stars beneath our feet." "I had learned it was better to share your stuff. You get back more than you think you would." "Sometimes, Wallace...you just do what you know is right, even if it seems dumb at the time." "...I had learned the most important thing: the decisions you make can become your life. Your choices are you."