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Monday, April 12, 2010

Star In The Middle by Carol Larese Millward

Star In The Middle by Carol Larese Millward
Publisher: WestSide Books
Genre: Contemporary
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (303 pgs)
Rating: 4 Suns
Reviewed by Fern

At age sixteen, Star’s life has changed drastically now that she’s become the mother of a baby boy. Because of the baby, Star’s planning to drop out of school to care for him instead of starting the eleventh grade. Star’s taking classes in parenting at a center for teen moms as she tries to learn to do what’s best for him. But she’s having trouble keeping up with the baby’s demands, and her grandmother is threatening to send her to foster care and force her to put the baby up for adoption if things don’t change. And to top it off, Wilson, the baby’s father, a popular star athlete with a bright future, refuses to believe that the baby is his. But there’s so much he doesn’t know about Star—terrible, painful secrets she’s hidden for years—even from her grandmother.

Star suffers in silence and doesn’t know whom to trust, but she finds support from her friends. She reconnects with Todd, a Goth-style former classmate who’s now a teenager raising an infant daughter. As Wilson’s friends and family push him to accept responsibility for his child, he begins to learn the truth about Star and her disturbing past, facts that ultimately change his life forever. Alternating between Star’s and Wilson’s points-of-view, Star in the Middle allows readers to eavesdrop on the teens’ innermost thoughts and fears, revealing an astonishingly realistic, compelling snap-shot of the difficult lives of teenage parents.

Star In The Middle is a complex and multifaceted story that addresses the issues of teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, responsibility, coming to terms with your mistakes and learning from them. While dark and gritty, the material offers a glimpse of something better for all involved. Told through the voices of Wil and Star, you are given a direct insight into what they are thinking and experiencing.

Star is a young girl who became pregnant and believed the boy she loved would always be there for her only to discover just how much a baby changes things. Her voice isn’t easy to read, especially as her innocence and longing for what she’ll never have – a childhood that is untainted by events in the past – surface time and again. She’s the character you sympathize with, as the burden of responsibility rests on her young shoulders. Wil, on the other hand, is a character that is very difficult to relate to. He left Star when she needed him most and believes the baby isn’t his. It takes time to understand him and at times I absolutely detested him. Yet, it is that very thing that makes the story so believable. Teenagers by design are selfish creatures, so Wil’s actions, while deplorable, ring true.

Although a majority of the story focuses on Star, Wil, and their son, there is also an undercurrent of mystery and suspense. At first, I didn’t see it coming. You are aware that Star has issues, but when you learn where they come from it’s both horrific and incomprehensible. Think of it like an intricate and carefully plotted puzzle, which snippets provided along the way. As they begin forming the bigger picture, you’ll better understand the characters, their motivations, and the ties that continue to bind them.

The themes are not intended for young children, which mean Star In The Middle should be targeted for a 14+ audience. This isn’t anything like the average YA material on the market. Rather, Star In The Middle provides a realistic portrayal of what happens when children have children and the complexities and heartbreak that can arise as a consequence.

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