Made of Stars by Kelley York
When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad's for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they'd spent there as kids. And it isat first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.
The reason they've never met Chance's parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance's quirksthe outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsivenessare now warning signs that something is seriously off.
Then someone turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance's family. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent...they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can't trust a word Chance says?
About the Author
Kelley York is the author of HUSHED. She was born and raised in central California, where she still resides with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets.
Read an Excerpt
Made of Stars
Even the Stars are Lies
By Kelley York, Stacy Abrams, Alycia Tornetta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Kelley York
All rights reserved.
When we first met Chance Harvey, he was playing with Barbies.
Not in the dressing-them-up sense. He had Malibu Barbie tied to the end of a fishing pole by her ankles and was reeling her in from the creek behind Dad's house. Even at eight years old, my half sister, Ashlin, and I both thought this was pretty bizarre.
Chance turned to stare at us with wide, round green eyes that didn't really fit his face. He was covered in grass and mud from crawling up and down the banks, camouflage paint smudged across his cheeks, and he stared at us like we were the weird ones.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
He was a runt, closer to Ash's size than mine, and I knew I could scare him off if he was there to cause trouble. My eyes narrowed. "That's my dad's house," I announced, pointing to the rooftop visible through the trees. "And this is his part of the creek. He's a cop, and you're gonna be in trouble if I tell him you're here."
In retrospect, I don't know why I felt the need to be so mean. I was a kid, and I guess being tough seemed like the thing to do, especially in front of my sister. But Chance, frustratingly unbothered by my threat, turned his back to us. "Well, let me finish this and I'll go away."
I crossed my arms to wait for him to get lost, but didn't it figure that Ashlin, in her mouse-sized voice, piped up with, "What are you doing?"
Chance regarded her with a crooked smile over his shoulder, like he'd been waiting for one of us to ask that very question. "I'm doing a rescue operation. Duh."
Ash's eyes widened and she took a step closer. "You're rescuing Barbie?"
Chance stood up, straightened his back, and placed a hand on his hip. I remember thinking that with that one simple gesture, he looked more grown-up than we did. "Yeah! But see, there are so many down there, I don't know where to start. You should help."
My sister didn't even wait for my opinion. She darted past me in her summer dress and grass-stained sneakers and crouched by Chance's side while he gave instructions on how, exactly, we were supposed to go about this rescue mission. He spoke to Ash, but his eyes were always on me.
That was how it all started. Fishing Barbies out of the creek.
We've spent our summers with Dad since I was five. Every year, when school let out, Ash flew to Otter's Rest, Maine, from her mom's on the West Coast, and I was put on a bus or train because my mom's place is only across the state.
And, when we showed up, Chance would be waiting. "It's about time," he'd say, hands on his hips where he stood on our back porch in his bare feet with his messy hair and big glasses. I'm not even sure he needed those glasses, seeing as half the time he took them off and propped them on his head or lost them altogether, and we'd spend hours searching for them while Chance wandered in circles, hands outstretched, claiming he was too blind to help.
I couldn't tell you where Chance lived, what school he went to, or what his parents' names were. But I could tell you his favorite type of ice cream and exactly how he ate it (rocky road, picking out the nuts and marshmallows to eat last), how he could recite every lyric from every Queen song in existence, and that he had a soft spot for animals and sad movies that made him tear up.
In my opinion, I knew all the things about Chance that mattered most. Chance was strangeness and whimsy in human form. Chance was our friend unlike any other friend Ashlin and I have ever had.
Chance was our summer.
We didn't see or talk to him through winter, but when we arrived for summer vacation, the three of us came together like we'd never been apart. For seven years, all I looked forward to as I plodded through school and my monotonous life with Mom and her boyfriend was the day I could pack my things and see Chance.
This is the first I've been at Dad's for more than a few days since I was fifteen, and I know a lot can change in two years. I had to fight with Mom just to get here now: she wanted me at college, and I wanted to take a year off. To spend with Dad. To spend with Ashlin. To think about my future and what I want out of it. Maybe, just maybe, to see Chance again.
It's weird showing up while there's slush on the ground and the air is damp and cold. Dad's house nestled off the side of the road looks different surrounded by skeleton trees instead of green, green, green.
There is no Chance waiting for me on the porch.
Not that I expected there to be; how would he know we were coming? We were here every summer without fail until Dad took a bullet to the spine in the line of duty two years ago, and while he recovered, we were kept at our respective homes. Away from Dad, away from each other, and away from Chance, with no way of contacting him.
I have no clue where or how to find him. Don't know where he lives, don't have a phone number, don't know if he has any other friends in town ... I called information once, but I didn't know his parents' names. Dad wasn't exactly in the physical state to be doing some detective work to find out, either.
Ashlin and I will have to put our heads together on how to find him when she shows up. Until then, I'll keep stepping outside, forgetting how cold it is even as the deck freezes my feet. I'll keep watching and waiting for the guy I haven't been able to get out of my head after all this time. That's the sort of person Chance is. He gets under your skin, and even when he's gone, you still feel him there like a dull ache. A warm memory you can never quite reclaim.
Ashlin arrives the next day. Dad and I pile into his old truck for the long drive to the airport. I haven't seen my half sister in six months — not since I flew out for her high school graduation. We only had the money for one of us to buy a ticket, and because I wanted to get the hell out of my house for a while, it was decided I'd be the one visiting her.
When I see her emerging from her gate, she still has the remains of a summer tan and a splash of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Once upon a time, she hated those freckles, until Chance told her they were cute and now she never tries to cover them with makeup. She goes to Dad first, careful in the way she hugs him. A rare smile pulls at his mouth as he puts an arm around her, the other not leaving his cane for support.
"My girl." He sighs. "I've missed you."
"Say that again after you've had us around for a few months." Ash pulls away and turns her attention to me.
"Hey, short stuff," I say with a grin.
Ash smiles a mile wide, throwing her arms around my neck. She smells like fruity body spray and shampoo and home. Being away from her and Dad all winter never felt right. This is how things were meant to be: me, my sister, and Dad.
All we're missing now is Chance.
* * *
Early on, Chance asked us about our parents. He knew that Dad was a cop, that we spent summers here with him. What he didn't understand was why, for the rest of the year, we lived with separate mothers. The idea seemed to baffle him. For us, it was as normal as night and day. (It wasn't until we got older and our friends at school told us our situation was weird that we realized how abnormal it really was.)
"Dad was dating my mom," I'd explained. "And they had a fight so they broke up for a while, and Dad was seeing someone else ..."
And, somehow, that had all spiraled out of control. Dad ended up with neither of those women and had two kids instead. Maybe he didn't do right by our moms — as they so frequently remind us — but Dad has never failed to be a good parent. He says it's hard to view his bad relationship choices as a mistake because he got Ash and me out of the deal.
I think I resented him a lot at first. Him and Ashlin both. I saw them as the cause of my mom's unhappiness and, by extension, my own. It was hard to hang on to that resentment, though, when Dad tried so hard and Ash understood exactly how I was feeling because she was going through the same thing. Maybe our life was strange, but we loved each other. It worked for us.
Chance's life, on the other hand, was a puzzle of a thousand pieces that never fit together quite right. According to him, his parents traveled for work a lot and often left him home alone, and so he had the freedom to spend practically every day with us. But when we tried getting Chance's number or e-mail address to keep in touch, he insisted he wasn't allowed phone calls and his parents wouldn't get Internet connected at the house. Going to the library for computer access, he said, was too much of a hassle. It was one thing to walk to our place. It was another to walk all the way into town.
The more I think about it, the things that made little sense then make even less sense now.
That night, at dinner, Ash prods at her food and asks Dad, "Do you think maybe you could ask one of the guys at the station to pull up Chance's address? I mean, otherwise he's never going to know we're here."
"You know I'm not supposed to ask for information like that." Dad doesn't look up. And yet, after he takes another bite, he adds, "I'll see what I can do."
When we all retreat to bed for the night — Ash and me to our rooms upstairs, Dad to his converted room downstairs because navigating the steps is still impossible, even with as much progress as he's made — I take a few minutes to call my girlfriend, Rachael. It's the first time we've been apart for this long in the year we've been dating, and while I'm enjoying the space, I did promise I would touch base with her.
She sounds happy to hear from me, but this time of night, I know she'll be knee-deep in homework and studying and won't have time for me.
"I'm sorry, Hunter. You really need to call earlier in the day. Can we talk later?"
"Sure. Sorry for interrupting."
"It's okay. Why don't you call back in the morning? I miss you."
"Yep. Miss you." I do miss her, but I can't say that I would trade being here for seeing her. Rachael hadn't even wanted me to come to Dad's and argued with me on it for weeks. It's still a sore spot for me. This? Coming here? It was important, and Rachael, Mom, and her boyfriend ... they all dug their heels in and thought of any reason why I shouldn't go. Why getting into college right now was more important.
After hanging up, I change clothes before collapsing into bed. My first order of business after getting here the other day was to tear down the old movie and band posters that were so outdated it hurt.
The only decorations I did leave up were the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. It was a summer-long project where Dad and I laid out a map of constellations and went to town, until an entire night sky stretched from corner to corner. I couldn't bear to take them down. Something about tracing their familiar patterns is still soothing as I lie alone, brain moving too fast and too loud to think properly.
They remind me of the times Ash, Chance, and I laid out on the back deck and watched the sky. Chance had a story for every constellation I pointed out. Ash used to love Orion, because the three stars that formed his belt were the only ones she could spot all on her own. Chance, though, went for the more elusive Draco.
He loved the stars, and he loved dragons. Draco was the perfect combination. He said his mom had taken him to a planetarium once when he was little. He'd fallen in love with the night sky right then and there.
I think about everything I've wanted to say to Chance over the last few years. The letters I wanted to write but had nowhere to send them. I wanted to ask him about school, about what he wanted to do after graduating, about maybe even coming to visit me at my place sometime. I wanted him to know how important he was. Not just to me, but to Ash and Dad. And about how there were a few years there where things got rough for me and what got me through was knowing, come summer, I would get to see him again.
I search out the Draco pattern on my ceiling. Chance would lay his head on my stomach while Ash laid on his, and he would twirl her long hair around his fingers as he told us the stories about Draco. Something with dragons and knights and princesses, maybe with witches and ghosts thrown in for good measure. I can't remember the exact story, but I fall asleep to the sound of his voice murmuring secrets and fairy tales in my head.
This is the first time I've seen Dad since he's been able to walk on his own again.
It's kind of a miracle, if you ask me. After being shot, he was told by the doctors that he wouldn't get out of a wheelchair again. Last time I was here, Isobel — a nurse turned family friend who lives down the street — had to assist him with everything from getting dressed to going to the bathroom.
I think it killed him a little inside to need that kind of help.
He went from being an easygoing and smiley guy to withdrawn and mopey. Mom says it was natural for him to be depressed, and I still see the shadow of that depression hanging over him, but I'm sure he'll cheer up having Hunter and me around for the winter while the two of us decide what colleges we're going to apply to next fall. He wanted us to come out even while he was hurt. Swore up and down he could handle it. But both our moms jumped at the excuse to not let us visit; my mom because she never got over Dad and being the other woman, and Hunter's mom because, without Hunter there, she actually has to take care of the house on her own.
I can tell Dad is enjoying the freedom of being mobile again, even if he needs a cane. But there's plenty around the house that Dad can't do no matter how hard he tries. He can't scale a ladder anymore, can't haul boxes or move furniture. Isobel does a lot more than she ought to do, but she shouldn't have to. Not while we're here.
Hunter and I throw ourselves fully into cleaning, fixing, and organizing. Dad sits by anxiously as we go through the attic and drag down old boxes of clothes, photos, knickknacks, and paperwork. Eventually, he relaxes when he realizes we aren't going to throw away anything important.
We also take his truck a few miles up the road and food shop. Easier for Hunt and me to get the errands done in a quarter of the time it would take Dad to do it, and an hour later we're home with the truck bed full of grocery bags. When Hunt notices Dad staring at us as we put stuff away, he asks, "What?"
Dad shakes his head. "Nothing. Just not sure when the two of you got so grown-up, is all."
Hunter and I exchange looks and shrug. Back home, I never willingly did this kind of stuff, because Mom only made me do it out of her own laziness. Hunter was in charge of a lot around his house, so maybe he's more used to it. But I see him smile a little before he turns away. He's used to doing it but maybe not used to getting any appreciation for it.
When we're done, Dad has his face in the newspaper and a cup of coffee in hand. Before we can wander off, he slides a piece of paper across the table. On it is an address I don't recognize, and Dad says, "Drive safe."
We don't need to ask where and how he got it. Probably don't even need to say thank you. (Dad only grunts in response when we do.) We pull up directions on my phone, yank our shoes back on, and run out the door.
Hunter drives because I hate the truck. Too used to Mom's tiny Jetta back home. The snow has let up, but the roads are still slick and tricky. My phone navigation tells us the address isn't more than a ten-minute drive, but it's in the complete opposite direction of anywhere we've ever gone. Once we turn off Pearson Street, the trees become denser, darker, and the road is rocky and uncared for, and eventually dead-ends into a cul-de-sac. We almost miss the narrow entryway into a mobile home park, barely visible through the trees.
For a brief second, as Hunt parks the truck inside the unofficial entrance, I think this has to be a mistake. Chance used to talk about his house, about how big the windows were and how much he hated it, because anyone could come peeking inside while his parents were away. But his room was upstairs, so at least the peekers wouldn't see his stuff and think to break in. They had a big basement with a ping-pong table, and a pool in the backyard. He'd tell us it was too bad his parents wouldn't let him bring anyone over, because Hunter and I would totally love his house.
Excerpted from Made of Stars by Kelley York, Stacy Abrams, Alycia Tornetta. Copyright © 2013 Kelley York. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
MADE OF STARS is a book that chewed me up, spit me out, and left me reeling. In the BEST way possible. This is not a YA book where there are happy endings and star-filled, easy love affairs. If you like twisty, dark, heart-breaking stories, this is the book for you. All I can really say is READ THIS BOOK. NOW. I was lucky enough to read it in one sitting, which I think is the best way to do it, and was consumed by the emotional experience of it. I’ve spent a few days trying to write a better review, but really, I just want to flail about and type gibberish, because I liked this book so much it’s hard to put it into words. MADE OF STARS is told from the alternating viewpoints of Hunter and Ashlin, half-siblings who spend every summer with their dad. They’ve got a complicated family story, but the most important thing is that they love each other and have a very strong sibling bond. They love their dad, too, because even though he made mistakes with their mothers, he always did the best he could do for them. They met Chance when they were eight; he was fishing for Barbies out of the creek behind their dad’s house. Even at that first meeting, both knew there was something about Chance, and summers with their dad also mean summers with Chance. Together, they make the sort of memories that stick in your mind forever, having fun doing the craziest and most mundane of things, and reliving the joy of childhood. This year, things are different. Together after a few years apart, Hunter, Ash, and Chance start off with their usual epic adventures. But soon Hunter and Ash start to figure out some of the secrets of Chance’s past. MADE OF STARS is in Hunter and Ash’s voices, but it’s really the tragic story of Chance. Poor Chance. I’m not always sympathetic to male characters, but here I wanted so badly for him to have good things in his life. I really felt for him, even though he sometimes frustrated me with the secrets he kept. I get why he kept those secrets, but that’s something I’ll let you discover for yourself. There wasn’t too much distinctiveness between Hunter and Ash, but the benefit of having both of their perspectives showed me how each of them felt about Chance, as well as how others saw those feelings. Ash has a crush on Chance, Hunter thinks Chance is the best friend ever, and Chance loves Hunter. Add in Hunter’s girlfriend, one he’s not too sure about, and you have a tangle of relationships. A messy, realistic, intricate tangle. I couldn’t get enough! One of my favorite things about MADE OF STARS is that there’s not a big emphasis on sexuality. Hunter and Chase are just two boys who happen to love each other. When I finished the book, I screamed “THAT’S IT?” at my phone. Seriously. The ending… that ending, yo. I wanted a more complete ending (I’m a greedy reader, I usually do want more from an ending). But after I processed and thought about the book as a whole, I don’t think there can be any other ending. Which makes me sad, but it’s the right fit for the book. I’m happy Kelley York ended MADE OF STARS the way she did, instead of adding on some fairy-tale happily ever after. I know MADE OF STARS is a book I’m going to reread, and even though I know what happens, it’s still going to sucker punch me. For me, that’s the mark of good writing and incredible storytelling. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
When I finished this book, I literally had to pick my jaw up from the floor! These were the words I wrote immediately after finishing: OMG! THAT'S where it ENDS?!?!?! I am FREAKING out! I NEED MORE! So let's just say...if you don't like unknowns or cliffhangers at the end of books, you might want to stay away from this one. :) This was a fantastic read, though, and you don't want to miss out on it! This book has so many things going for it! Not only does it read like a suspense, but it is also a beautiful story about friendship, family and love. And to top it all off, it is EXTREMELY well written! Kelley York does a fantastic job of approaching tough topics, including abuse and sexuality. The Jackson family is about as nontraditional as they come...Hunter and Ashlin are half-siblings, who also happen to be the same age. Even though they live across the country from one another, they have a fantastic relationship with each other, and with their dad. They each live with their respective mothers most of the year, but when they were growing up, they spent each summer together with their dad. And another permanent fixture of their summers was Chance. Chance is sort of a mystery. He always shows up alone and on foot. And he spends TONS of time with Hunter and Ashlin. But he also disappears for a day or two at a time, and sometimes he refuses to do activities like swimming. Despite Chance's quirks, Ashlin and Hunter are both in love with him, even if Hunter hasn't figured it out yet. Then one summer Hunter and Ashlin's dad gets shot on duty with a major injury (he's a cop), and they end up only coming for extremely short trips over the next couple years. Now, Hunter and Ashlin have graduated from high school, and aren't sure what they want to do with their lives, so they both decide to live with their dad for the winter while they figure it out. At first, they're afraid that they won't see Chance, but once they find him, he shows up out of nowhere, just like he did when they were kids. And despite having a girlfriend, Hunter's feelings for Chance keep pushing their way into his thoughts. And even though Ashlin is also in love with Chance, she's starting to notice things about Chance and her brother that she didn't pay attention to when they were kids. The fateful day that Chance's mom is found dead, Chance seems to disappear into thin air. Ashlin and Hunter know the truth now about what goes on in Chance's house, but now they need to prove that he's innocent, without incurring the wrath of Chance's father, or incriminating Chance or themselves... I LOVE the development of the characters and plot! Even though Chance is strange, you can't help but fall in love with him too. And when you figure out all the bad things that have happened to him over the course of his life, you just want to wrap him up in your arms and make everything ok. And Ashlin and Hunter's dad is such an amazing secondary character. He cares so much about his kids, and Chance. He gives pretty good advice, but also allows his children to make mistakes, and discover things on their own. And he feels absolutely awful when he realizes what has been happening to Chance, and that he didn't figure it out himself. Ashlin is an amazing sister, and friend. She actually takes the time to put her own feelings aside for a little bit to figure out what is going on with her brother, and to try to help save Chance. And it is so amazing watching Hunter sort through his experiences and emotions. It isn't about whether or not he's gay. This story is truly about love, and the different kinds of love we have for the people in our lives. I really, REALLY hope there is a sequel!!! Pretty please?
"We’re all made of stars," he agrees. "We burn bright, then we flicker away." Made of Stars is the type of book that will stick with you for a long, long time. I connected with half-siblings Hunter and Ashlin nearly immediately. The novel is told from their perspectives in alternating chapters. It was a little difficult to tell their voices apart in the first couple chapters, but it didn’t take long for them to separate and stand out. "Chance was strangeness and whimsy in human form." As they came together and their childhood friend Chance was brought into the mix, I was hooked. They both had very strong – and sometimes confusing – feelings about Chance. It was apparent from the start that Chance and Hunter had a strong hold on each other. Their feelings were clearly of more than friendship. It was also obvious that neither of them are particularly comfortable with the feelings. Ashlin, too, felt for Chance, but slowly realized she never stood a chance. (No pun intended.) He belonged to Hunter and Hunter to him. Chance was an enigma. While both Hunter and Ashlin had strong feelings for him, neither really knew everything about him and his life. As Chance shows up with more bruises and his mother is found murdered, the mystery deepens. I couldn’t walk away from their story. This was a beautifully-written novel that was part coming-of-age tale and part mystery. It left me filled with questions and the need for more. More answers. More Hunter, Chance and Ashlin. Just more in general. I truly hope this is the first book in a series. I would hate for this story to end here. I think there’s so much more to tell. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. All quotes come from the review copy and may differ from the final version.
Made of Stars by Kelley York is a surprising different type of story that I have read in the YA genre. This is not dystopian, but a simple warm and heart wrenching story of three young adults, whom we meet when they were children, with the focus of most of the story taking place when they were 18. Made of Stars was my first book by York, and it was so well written. It kept my attention from the start, even when the story changed a bit, and you saw where it was heading, York just kept me turning the pages. Our protagonists are a threesome, Hunter and Ashlin, who are half siblings, as they share the same father, but each live with their mother. Each summer they would stay with their father, and enjoying their time together. York made them both so great their closeness, and loyalty to each other was sweet, and you loved them both. Into this mix, was Chance, a local boy who became their trusted and adored friend. Chance spent more time with Hunter and Ashlin, then he did at home; being young, neither would wonder why. Chance, was sort of their leader, and he reminded me a bit of Peter Pan, fun loving, playful, daring and fearless. All three of them were very close, each looking forward to the time they spent with each other. Due to an injury to Hunter & Ashlin’s father, two years pass before they come back to spend the winter with their father. They are now 18, planning their lives to go to college. Hunter has a girlfriend, Rachel, who will spend part of the winter with them. But now that they are older, things have changed somewhat. Both Hunter and Ashlin are excited to see Chance again, and privately each have strong feelings for Chance. But when Rachel is with them, she notices how Chance looks at Hunter, & suspects the feelings might be the same. Ashlin, who begins to realize that Chance loves Hunter, tries to talk to Hunter. But he refuses to acknowledge that Chance is anything more then a very close adored friend. Even though this is an important part of the story, the main focus changes to a deep concern for Chance. Hunter and Ashlin begin to find out the Chance has been lying about his life at home, and when they see bruises on him, they suspect the worst. The emotional revelations change everything, as the story heads to an exciting and tragic climax. The close bond of the threesome is pushed to the limit, as they face the terrible truths, which will change everything. Throughout the story, you sensed not all was as it seemed about Chance, and the future for the threesome was headed toward something very dark. What happens? You will need to read to find out. I do have to say that Kelley York has impressed me with her wonderful writing, in this different story. I loved her characters, and the closeness of the siblings, as well as how all of them felt for Chance. This was a wonderful story, and even though this is considered YA, Made of Stars can be read by everyone.
I’ve heard such great things about Hushed, which I haven’t had the opportunity to read yet. So going into this one, I had very high hopes. I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would, but it was overall a good story. I do have to say how much it bothered me though that the synopsis gives so much away. I mean, Chance’s mother doesn’t die until around 60% into the book. To me, that’s a spoiler by every sense of the word. I would have loved to have come upon that scene without already knowing it was going to happen. Having so much of the story in the description really took away from the enjoyment of the book for me. Made of Stars is told through the alternating POVs of two half-siblings, Ashlin and Hunter. These two have the same father, and choose to spend summers together with their dad… and their friend, Chance. This time they decide to extend their stay in hopes of spending more time together, and with Chance. Though the story is told by this brother and sister duo, it’s really a story about Chance. A very troubled boy running from his home life, yet the reasons why are kept hidden from Ashlin and Hunter… and from us. Chance is basically an enigma. Though they have spent summers with him for as long as they can remember, they know very little about him. They’ve never been to his house or met his family. He’s become a permanent fixture in their family, yet they don’t know much about his home life. Having alternating POVs in stories usually really helps me get to know more than one character on more of a personal level, yet this story was quite the opposite. I felt that I never got to know either one. Ashlin and Hunter consistently remained at arms reach, never quite giving me that oomph that really helps me become invested in the characters. I didn’t much care for any of the characters, to be honest. Chance least of them all. Though I did feel a bit of empathy for him and his life, I never connected with him. And the ending seemed to lack the closure that I really needed to finish this story off. I was, however, invested in the relationship between Chance and Hunter a bit. I really enjoyed how perfectly York portrayed Hunter’s inner struggle around his feelings for Chance. The lack of any gay stereotypes was so refreshing. They were never labeled as gay, never put in a category… they were just two boys in love. A love that was new and unfamiliar to both. Hunter was so hesitant to admit to his feelings, so unsure of how to act or how to feel. It was so real. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from York. Her writing style was one I’d like to see more of. I have a feeling I will be reading Hushed in the very near future. :)
Disclaimer: I was given an advanced copy of Made of Stars by the publishers. This book, for me, was incredibly slow to start. So slow to start, in fact, that I almost didn't want to continue reading. And then it hit me. Was that dreariness in the begin all part of the master plan? The book is centered around three main characters: half-siblings Ashlin and Hunter, and the summer-break boy Chance they both love. The book is told from alternating perspectives of Hunter and Ashlin. I'm afraid to give too much of the plot away, because I really feel that would spoil the story. Instead, I will say that things did not progress as I imagined -- which is a good thing. I was hit with the long triangle that is subtly grows through the story. It took me by surprise in the most beautiful heartbreaking way possible. Read the book. It's worth it, if you can get past the initial dragging.
*This review is based on an eARC received from Entangled Teen* It’s… wow. Made of Stars impressed me beyond words. I never thought I would come to love this book so much, but God did it affect me. I am still lost in Kelley York’s words and in her intriguing characters. Hunter and Ashlin are these great half siblings, who love each other no matter what. They have different personalities, but in the long run, they are good and supporting for each other. While Hunter is this quiet thoughtful guy, Ashlin is more expressive and good with words. They decide to come back home and live with their dad after graduation to help around his time of need and of course, to reunite themselves with their best friend from childhood, Chance. That is what astounded me the most, their big affection for Chance. I mean, they LOVED this boy. He was this person so essential to their lives. He had this way of entrancing you, to need him there to feel complete, just like Hunter and Ashlin did. His secrets though were always setting off my trust alarms. But then he would appear and I would forget everything and go willingly wherever he would take us. That is Chance. Oh, I was constantly surprised. Mid through the story I tried to stop guessing, I never came even close to how everything would turn out, though I always knew the romance aisle of this story would be GLBT, and let me tell you, it was absolutely beautiful. I am torn about how it ends, it’s unexpected and unfair. It’s bittersweet and, despite not being what I wanted it to be, I really can’t think of a better way of how it could have ended because this book is the real deal. It’s not the fall-into-place-perfectly kind of read. It is raw and tormenting, yet at the same time, hopeful and hauntingly fascinating. I try without success to not think about it, I’m certainly stunned and heartbroken. I’m mystified and at the point where I ask myself why I like to inflict torture in my life. I have the urge to plaster stars into my ceiling, gather many dragon figurines and head out the freeway looking for a way to reach him. Really, it’s quite hard to describe all the feels, you just have to read this book and see for yourself what I mean.
ARC provided by Entangled Teen MADE OF STARS is unlike any book I have ever read. Its structure, plot, and character development is so real it’s hard to believe it is a work of brilliantly written fiction! Kelley York has introduced a whole new level of perfection! I instantly fell in love with the two main characters Hunter and Ashlin (two siblings) and their enduring story of friendship, devotion and love for their childhood friend Chance, who is sometimes everything but deserving. MADE OF STARS shares POV’s from Hunter and Ashlin as they struggle through their first year after high school and the secrets they both harbor. Looking for a way to understand what they want out of life, the two decided to move in with their dad and defer a year. Both Hunter and Ashlin find themselves excited to be spending time with their Dad who they only had childhood summers with and each other, but their main excitement lands on Chance. The little rocky, yet clever boy who gave them reason to be kids and act nothing of their age. Chance has always been the distraction they craved, always gave them reason to forget their worries and live carefree. But when Chance begins hiding his own secrets Ashlin and Hunter begin to wonder if they ever really knew the boy they always thought was their best friend. When all their secrets begin to leak out of their holds, reality hits hard and strong. Love proves to be a strength each of them craves and needs-- when they grab ahold of it and swear never to let go no matter what, a murder wakes their town from a sleepy reality, leaving Hunter, Ashlin and Chance sitting in the middle of it all. MADE OF STARS left me wide awake and in awe. I felt alive and whole and slightly a bit broken after I closed the last page. Hunter, Ashlin and Chance are three characters that will linger with me for a very long time to come! Simply put, MADE OF STARS is a book to own and re-read over and over again. LOVED it! Thank you Entangled Teen for the ARC!
Diclaimer: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion. I was first introduced to Kelley York’s writing when I recently read Hushed and fell in love with the music of her words and her ability to weave a high-quality tale, so I was super excited for the opportunity to review Made of Stars. In this latest title by Ms York, we’re introduced to a trio of characters: Hunter, Ashlyn and Chase. Half-siblings, Hunter and Ashlyn have spent every summer at their shared father’s place, where they met their ‘summer friend’ Chase at young ages. By the time this story is told, they have a spent a LOT of summers together as a trio, and are all old enough to be finding their paths in life, and their independent decisions begin showing their faces from the very first page. From the off, all three of these characters are so vibrant, they practically leap off the page—even Chase, who we don’t get to meet in person quite as early as the siblings, but that’s likely to do with the complexity of his character and the god-worthy pedestal both Hunter and Ashlyn have placed him on. I don’t want to go into the plot too much, because with stories like Kelley’s, doing so can too easily give the entire plot away. But this one contains an entwined duet of love triangles (which are so subtle they don’t even read as love triangles), characters who will break your heart, and a storyline that somehow manages to appear innocent whilst carrying an undercurrent of doom. This is a great talent of Ms York’s I also picked up on when I read Hushed—that no matter how swimmingly the characters make it look like everything is going, the reader can’t help but pick up those vibes that something somewhere is about to go horribly wrong. And Made of Stars has an abundance of these vibes. Because yes, we have what appears to be the main plot path, which pretty much revolves around the duet of love triangles, but reading between the lines and picking up on all the well-placed and woven-in hints you can easily see the bigger plot point of the story. The one that has the reader gripping their Kindle (or book) and unwilling to let go of the damn thing until she/he freakin’ well knows! And man, as if the unveil near the end (which I suspected but ignored my suspicions on because I didn’t want it to be true) isn’t enough, the author then goes and smacks us with that horribly heartbreaking ending. I apologise for my vagueness in here, I really do. But this is definitely a story you should allow to unfold on its own. Because guaranteed, with the heartbreaking content, the AWESOME, top-class characterisations of the people you will meet between the pages, and the mystery that just begs to be unravelled, Made in Stars is definitely a book every reader out there should experience for themselves. Love, love, love this lady’s writing. Love every character of hers that I’ve read, love how she makes me fall in love with them all despite their enormous flaws, and the mystery and darkness and top notch handling of delicate subjects. Ms York has totally earned a spot with the top players on my ‘must read asap’ list.
I don’t think I can put into proper words my feelings about Kelley York’s writing. Thus far, she’s always written LGBT young adult fiction with broken boys. But really, that’s putting her prose far too simply. She always writes with an authentic voice that somehow manages to come across childlike, but adult. A voice that manages to sound innocent, but jaded. A story that shows humans can easily be both good and bad. She writes stories that make me think, make my heart break in tiny pieces, and make me look at things surrounding me in new ways. She inspires me simply put. Made of Stars is a complex story of three teenagers on the precipice of discovering who they are, what they want in life, what they are willing to sacrifice and give up, and what they are willing to fight for at all cost. Hunter Jackson and his half-sister Ashlin meet the boy they will grow to love, as they mature, by the water one summer. Chance, the boy the author describes perfectly as “strangeness and whimsy in human form.”I don’t think I can tell other readers how large my love for Chance was throughout this book. He’s both truth and lies, strength and vulnerability; he’s a boy who loves animals and sad movies, that never stops dreaming because it’s the only thing keeping him going, other than a love deep in his heart for boy he considers his haven. And for Hunter and Ashlin, Chance was their summer. He’s adventure, spontaneity, and sunshine. He’s an escape from their normal lives, and something they look forward to during those cold months away from their summers visiting their dad. The real start of this novel begins in November. Ashlin and Hunter have graduated from high school and have decided to take a year off before deciding whether or not to attend college. Ashlin lives in California normally with her mom, and Hunter lives in Maine with his mom and her boyfriend, Bob, about four hours away from their dad, in Otter’s Rest, Maine. When Ashlin and Hunter arrive for their first winter, they don’t immediately see Chance, and it’s nerve-wracking because they haven’t been home to see their dad (or Chance) in two years due to an injury their father suffered. However, as soon as they see Chance everything goes right back as if they were all kids again. Except things aren’t quite what they seem. Ashlin still holds out for Chance’s attention, but he only has eyes and room in his heart, in that way, for Hunter. When Hunter’s girlfriend comes for a visit in Christmas, all of the relationships change. Things that have been buried come to the surface and teenagers have to face some harsh truths about themselves, the people they love, and what makes up the idea of a family. Feelings of guilt, shame, envy, awakening, and joy take over their young bodies throughout these months. This book is slow at times, but it’s an enjoyable pace. The writing is quite sparse, yet it says so very much. It’s poetic, but at the same time, I can clearly see a real person speaking these words, having these internal monologues within themselves. There is that joy of snow, the adventure of an island, tall tales and scary truths, and the sense of family and what you make of it. Kelley York shines, as always, in her character studies. Whenever I finish one of her books, I feel as if a part of me was torn away when I put the book down, as if leaving her characters rips them from my life. I worry about them, I love them, and I just want the best for them. To me, that’s what books are about and what brings me joy. What I most appreciate, though, is she will make you work to love each one of them or emote understanding for individuals you’d otherwise never would. Ashlin is such a wonderful, selfless, brave young woman. A caring daughter, a giving sister, a devoted friend. She, also, recognizes emotions and feelings of other characters in such simple, understanding ways. I loved when she understood why she wanted Chance, and it correlated so perfectly of what she thought Hunter and Rachel’s relationship held, and even more when she saw the truth between Hunter and Chance. Hunter is that all-American boy whose story should be so simple, if this was just any fairy-tale story. And Chance…Chance is best left for the reader to discover on their own, but I heart him so very, very much.
A moving YA suspense-mystery with some dark themes. The novel is fast-paced and switches between two POVs. Although the story flows well throughout most of the book, the ending is abrupt and doesn't offer closure. Overall, a good novel to promote conversations about some serious themes. Net Galley Feedback