The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3.5 stars. This story had a fairly strong finish, but was a little hard to get into at first, and the author's over-use of a particular phrase was very distracting and annoying.
Twelve-year old Wallace, or "Lolly" as most people call him, lives in the projects in Harlem with his mom. They are both grieving over the recent loss of Lolly's older brother, Jermaine, who was killed as a result of gang violence. Lolly is having a particularly hard time because not only is he grieving, he is also dealing with anger over whatever caused the two of them to stop speaking the week of Jermain's death, and feeling guilty because of it.
Lolly is obsessed with Lego's, meticulously following the directions to make them exactly like the photos on the box. But once he suddenly decides to break all his models down and build something entirely new, of his own design, he is finally able to start working through his feelings of grief and anger, and make an unexpected connection. But after two neighborhood thugs start hassling him and his freinds, will he be able to resist the temptations that Jermaine could not?
I had a little trouble getting into this book at first, but once I did really enjoyed following Lolly on his journey of discovery. I loved the characters, especially Lolly, his mom, her girlfriend Yvonne, and Lolly's friend Vega, and I really liked seeing the friendship that gradually developed between Lolly and Rosamund through building, and how they each were highly skilled, but in such different ways, and the way they integrated their work together at the end.
I like that this books portrays the difficulties of living in the projects, the realities of gangs, violence, and how difficult it is to resist, but also shows positive examples of those who are able to make better choices to give hope and direction to others. I did find some of the little side-stories to be unnecessary and a little distracting, and while I like the way his mom and her girlfriend were portrayed, some of the other minor gay characters were too stereotypical, almost caricatures.
Now, to what absolutely irritated the crap out of me about this book.... For some reason, the author *constantly* refers to characters "sucking their teeth", over and over and over. It's as bad as Ana constantly biting her lip in Fifty Shades of Grey. It was so distracting and annoying that I almost gave up on reading the book. I don't know how on earth the editor did not catch and correct this!
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