When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al, has taken his own life, his whole world is suddenly torn apart.
Al was special, talented and had so many dreams. So, why did he do it?
Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan decided to retrace Al’s footsteps. Whilst doing this he meets Megan, Al’s former classmate, who is determined as Nathan to keep Al’s memory alive.
Together they start seeking answers, but will either of them be able to handle the truth about Al’s death when they finally discover what happened?
I had been hearing so many amazing things about this book in the lead up to it’s release so much so that I had to buy a copy of it myself. My plan was to read this before attending the NYA Lit Fest at the end of March where Danielle would be doing a signing. Due to everything that has happened NYA has been cancelled but I’m so glad I picked this book up thanks to it and flew through it. It is a heart-breaking, eye-opening, heavy and incredible debut novel that I’m so glad I picked up.
I can’t disguise from the fact that this story is extremely heavy. The themes in this book are often far from easy to read. This book tackles topics and themes such as suicide, bullying, poverty and much more and it doesn’t sugar-coat them in anyway. This book is actually inspired by the experience of Danielle Jawando herself. As horrible as these experiences will have been for her I hope that this book helps people in the position that she was in.
The characters of this book are flawed in many ways. They make mistakes and wrong choice. They do hurt people sometimes on purpose but mostly on accident. They aren’t always sure about how to talk about going on inside their minds and in the world. But when they do open up and share their grief and pain magical things about. The characters learn from one another, they heal, even if just a little, but we heal with them too.
This book is told from two perspectives. Megan’s perspective and Nathan’s perspective. Both perspectives are so different yet so wonderful. I loved both characters and as I said before they are flawed but you can learn so much from them. Danielle has done an excellent job in her writing to make you feel so connect to these characters throughout the book.
What made the characters feel more real to me was the fact that the book wasn’t written in clean English. It is written in a language that fits the characters perfectly. It isn’t always perfect English, it is how people speak most of the time in Wythenshawe, Manchester and it is real. It all feels extremely real.
The story is also so real. The characters may be fictional, but the story itself definitely isn’t. The struggles, what happens to them and how they deal with it, it is real and it is happening to so many people on a day-to-day basis. The world can be a wonderful place, but it can also make peoples lives hell and with no route out. This book shows that and this book is real!
Overall, And the Stars were Burning Brightly is an important, raw and real book that hits hard. It is a book I highly recommend and it is a book that has to be read! Go and pick this book up, you won’t regret it!