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I enjoyed Stella by Starlight -- the story of a black girl named Stella who is living in the depression-era South. Stella doesn't have a lot of power over the events that take place around her -- the segregation, the hurdles her friends and family members are forced to go through just to attempt to cast a ballot, the KKK meetings across the lake, and the arson of the house of her friends. But she learns to find her voice and rely on her family and on the close-knit community she lives in.

Stella wants to write and be a writer, which does not seem entirely uncommon in books about adolescent children written by people who are also writers. What I appreciated was that her struggles and learning seem to be portrayed realistically for the most part. When Stella's teacher announces a writing contest, I expected that Stella, being the protagonist, was probably going to win. But she doesn't. And despite that, she keeps writing. I like seeing that in books aimed at middle grade readers especially -- it's not always about winning -- sometimes it's just about being willing to make mistakes and keep on trying, and the "winning," if it comes at all, may be many years down the road still. But Stella still fights and wins a few victories on the way.

To be honest, there were a few times when it seemed to me that Stella's "voice" sounded too much like an adult trying to speak through a child. Mainly in some of the metaphors and more abstract views she comes up with that seem like they'd be beyond her actual experience.

Still, a good read for the characterizations and writing style, as well as informative about this time period.

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author: Sharon Draper
Pages: 320
Content Advisory: As mentioned in the review, KKK activities are mentioned, as well as a scene of arson, scenes of racial discrimination/demeaning treatment, and a few characters are injured or in peril at different times.

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