Amy’s Thoughts On…And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

Published by: Simon and Schuster Children’s Books

Released: 5th March 2020

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart.
Al was special.
Al was talented.
Al was full of passion and light…so why did he do it?
Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan begins to retrace his footsteps. And along the way, he meets Megan. Al’s former classmate, who burns with the same fire and hope, who is determined to keep Al’s memory alive. But when Nathan learns the horrifying truth behind his brother’s suicide, one question remains – how do you survive, when you’re growing up in the age of social media?

Amy’s Thoughts..

TW: Suicide, mental health, bullying, loss, social media

15 year old Nathan’s life is torn about when he finds out his big brother Al has taken his own life. Al was a talented young man who was so full of passion, and Nathan wonders why he would have done this? Convinced Al was in trouble, Nathan begins to investigate meeting Al’s former classmate Megan on his quest, who like Nathan wants to keep Al’s memory alive. However, when Nathan eventually finds out the truth, sparks are set to fly.

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, firstly, was a gritty, emotion packed, heartwrenching read that did tug at my heartstrings several times throughout my time reading it. It did, you could say take me on an emotional rollercoaster ride, one where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get off or not. It was so beautifully written and I did find myself hypnotised by the almost poetic like prose.

The way the story was told really resonated with me, and I found it to be a rather unique way to telling such a harrowing tale. We see the story through the point of views of Nathan, Al’s brother and Megan, Al’s friend and former classmate. I really enjoyed how we got the differing views from Nathan, who used violence and anger to show his grief and Megan, who used Al’s memory to change her life and create something amazing. The contrast between these two characters was utterly remarkable and the voices of both characters seemed so vivid and lifelike. What I also found interesting was the sections at the start of each chapter in Al’s voice. This helped me to understand him as a character a lot more, and they were probably some of my favourite bits of writing from the whole book. The plot, also kept me on my toes and every time I guessed the conclusion, something would happen to change my mind. When I did get to the end, I was, as you can guess, in great shock.

The subject matter within And the Stars Were Burning Brightly is rather heavy, especially the topics of suicide and bullying. I’ll admit that some scenes are quite troubling to read, but they bring to life the fact that this does happen in real life and I commend the author for bringing these topics to our attention. The way that the dark side of social media was perceived was also commendable and it really did get me thinking about how despite how good social media can be, it can be very distressing for some people to use with regards to online bullying etc.

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly was an emotional, moving read that really did touch me. The way it brought topics such as suicide, mental health and online bullying to the forefront was inspiring and I can honestly say, it will stick with me.

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