The Weight of the Stars
- Author: K. Ancrum
- Genre: YA Sci-Fi
- Publication Date: March 19, 2019
- Publisher: Imprint
CONTENT WARNING: death of a parent, violence, parental abandonment, mention of suicide, sexual assault
The universe is full of second chances.
Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who sprung Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the girls are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And now it’s up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more.
I loved this story, and even more, the message behind the story. Just like in The Wicker King, K. Ancrum has created a whole new generation of lovably damaged characters who, despite having little to nothing in common, have managed to find something that binds them together. The small group seems to absorb other misfits as they pop into the scene, so Alexandria is clearly next up to join the group. But she seems to be anything but open to the idea, actively doing anything she can to push the group away.
I couldn’t help but love each of the teens in this story — Ryann, Ahmed, Shannon, Blake, Tomas, and James all had their flaws, but they worked together and became a found family to replace what was missing in their lives for various reasons. And it was exactly what Alexandria needed as well, despite her ongoing resistance. But it was Ryann who really stole my heart — a girl who had huge dreams despite all the challenges facing her. And they were major challenges, like taking care of her younger brother, a baby, running a household and holding things together. These all forced her to give up on her dream of becoming an astronaut, and pushed her to accept the role that she is forced to play, the one that everyone expects of her.
At it’s heart, it’s a story about how decisions play out long-term, and how they have a ripple effect that changes the lives of the people around you. It also talks about this group of young people grasping hold of their own futures and not letting past choices, especially of others, dictate who they have to be for the rest of their life.
There’s some great rep in this story. One of the characters is mute following trauma, which I haven’t seen in a book before, but was intriguing to see. He uses basic sign language, but seems to communicate mostly using his phone to text. There’s polyamorous rep, and I was thrilled to see how well that relationship worked long-term, since they were from another book and it made me so happy to see that they were still together! There’s gay and bisexual rep that was done really well. One of the characters is a practicing Sikh and another is biracial. The characters do experience some discrimination, and there is mention of the overwhelming homogeneity of the area in which they live, but overall, the story focused mainly on the emotional journey of these characters.
And what a journey it was. I actually cried at points, and I loved the pace. I quickly got attached to the characters, and the short chapters made it so easy to fly through this book. I adore the way Ancrum writes, capturing the lives of kids on the edge, and letting them be their multidimensional, independent selves. This is an awesome book, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her works.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 4
Categories: Book Review