Kid’s Review: And the Stars were Burning Brightly

Kid’s Review: And the Stars were Burning Brightly

About the Book and Author

Set on a Northern housing estate Danielle Jawando’s debut YA novel is an emotional story about a gifted 17-year-old boy called Al, who tragically takes his own life, leaving his family and friends to cope with the traumatic aftermath of this shocking and totally unexpected event. It is published by Simon and Schuster.

The story is told from the perspective of Nathan, Al’s younger brother, and Megan, who was Al’s only friend. Nathan feels responsible for Al’s untimely death and is determined to reveal the incidents that led to his brother’s self-destructive decision. He needs to understand why someone so talented would do what he did and to discover if his brother would still be alive if he had behaved differently. This is a original and moving story, sensitively told, that will provoke important conversations amongst young people.

And the Stars font cover

Born in Manchester, Danielle Jawando’s previous publications and broadcasting credits have included a short story Paradise 703, which was published by DeadInk in 2012 (longlisted for the Finishing Line Press Award in 2011). She has also had several short plays performed in Manchester and London. In 2015, she worked on Coronation Street as a storyline writer and in 2017, her short story The Deerstalker was selected as one of the six finalists for the We Need Diverse Books short story competition. Her first nonfiction book for children (about the life of Maya Angelou) was published by Laurence King in 2019. Your can follow her on twitter @DanielleJawando

Book Review

The story contains a brilliant message which can help others, who have similar thoughts to Al's, about the importance of speaking out and not suffering alone

The book opens with Al saying:
One day Bro you’ll see. It will happen you won’t even realize it. You’ll look up at the sky, stare at all those stars burning hundreds and thousands of miles away, and you’ll think: I get it now.

This intrigued me from the start – the setting, the genre, and the storyline of the book. The opening line is used in a powerful and strong way to set the scene, but I did think it was a surprising beginning for a story which I knew was about a suicide.

Nathan (Al’s brother)’s  realisation by the end of the book is… I get all that stuff that Al was banging on about – I really do. This showed the reader the outcome, but without telling the difficult journey Nathan had to take to understand his brother’s actions. I liked the image of the brothers looking up into the sky together, both wondering.

The language used is very strong, and some may argue unnecessary in a teenager’s novel, but the characters are realistic and I think that the dialogue reinforces their personalities and is appropriate given the characters’ negative thoughts and feelings.

I found the book hard to read at times, especially as the narrative alternated between Nathan and Megan for each chapter, because I found it a bit confusing. But this did have the effect of creating good cliff-hangers for the reader.

In my opinion this book is a perfect read for readers across all genders. I would recommend this book to young readers as it is describes a stereotypical modern teenage boy who unfortunately is led down a wrong path and finds himself isolated. It is thought-provoking and contains an important message about sharing negative thoughts with people you trust.

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Reviewer Profile

Alistair junior blogger
  • Name: Alistair
  • Age: 13 years
  • Likes: football, reading and pizza
  • Dislikes: jam and being lazy
  • Favourite Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Favourite Film: Skyfall
  • Favourite Song: Lucid Dreams by Juice World