A Galaxy of Sea Stars by Jeanne Zilick Ferrulo
Title: A Galaxy Of Sea Stars
Author: Jeanne Zulick Ferrulo
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Islamic Content: Afghan Muslim family, references the Qur'an in multiple places
Concerns: references made to 9/11, war in Afghanistan, implies a crush in one instance, bullying
Izzy has a lot going on already with her mother moving away, and her father recovering from PTSD after he was injured in Afghanistan. When Sitara and her family move in upstairs, she struggles to balance her time between her best friends and Sitara. She is proud and confident in her identity and doesn't want to forget who she is. Izzy's friends aren't keen on getting to know Sitara, rather belittle and judge her based on her appearance. Sitara is humiliated in front of everyone, and when Izzy finds out who was behind this scheme, she has a decision to make.
There is so much ground that is covered in this upper middle grade novel. Adapting and embracing change, the growth and dynamics of childhood friendships, fighting to keep your identity and roots, bullying and microaggressions, speaking up, struggles of immigrants of the past and present; they are all discussed in this book. The way Sitara's character is portrayed is brilliant: a confident, strong, resilient, brave girl that has experienced so many unfortunate traumas that she tries to bury deep inside. Her character is the perfect balance between being an adventurous child and the willingly helpful daughter. Sitara is the one that inspires change and growth in the main character, Izzy. When Izzy is exploring her dilemma, her grandmother shares memories of when she was growing up and her experiences as a child of immigrant parents and their unwelcomed presence in US soil. This angle brings a real perspective to the young readers; history repeating itself after all. This novel also highlights the travesty of judging others solely on the outer appearance without giving yourself the chance to know the inner being. Of course, I can't forget about Sitara's reference to forgiveness in the Qur'an. I think the ending is such a great reflection of reality.
There is much to learn from this book.