A Galaxy of Sea Stars by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

Description: At a time when everything in her small town seems like it’s changing, eleven-year-old Izzy wants things to stay the same. She wants her dad to start acting like he did before he was deployed to Afghanistan, she wants her mom to move back to the marina where they live, but most of all, she wants her best friends to stay best friends as they begin sixth grade.
Then, Izzy’s father invites his former Army interpreter from Afghanistan and his whole family – including eleven-year-old Sitara — to move into the upstairs apartment at the marina. Izzy doesn’t know what to make of Sitara with her hijab and refusal to eat cafeteria food, but as Izzy gets to know Sitara, she can’t help but admire her self-confidence and pride in her Muslim faith. When hate messages start showing up at the girls school and at the marina, Izzy and Sitara team up to discover the source of the vandalism. But what Izzy ultimately learns, will force her to make a choice: remain silent and betray Sitara or speak up for what she knows is right – even if it means losing her best friends forever.

Review: This is hands down one of my new favorite books. I think it is relatable to preteen girls in so many ways. It encourages them to try new things but to stay true to themselves and use their voice, it encourages the message that everyone is going through something but they don’t always show it, and it shows that people change and it’s not always healthy to change with them. I couldn’t put this book down once I started reading it, and the author did such a wonderful job connecting the reader to the characters. There were many times I was frustrated or angry with the characters and their actions (as if I was actually a part of their lives), and also a few times where I cried because there was just so much feeling written in the story. I also really loved the science aspect of oceanography that was woven in. I typically don’t like books about the ocean, but I was completely engaged the whole way through. I highly recommend this book to any kid going into middle school.

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