A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr
This is a beautifully crafted magical story for middle grade readers which made my heart feel like bursting with all the sadness and beauty within its pages.
We follow the story of Meixing who has come with her family to a New House in the New Land. Meixing's parents have high expectations for her - wanting her to succeed in learning the New Language and go on to excel at school.
But Meixing's entire universe is rocked by loss and grief - amplifying her feelings of displacement and alienation. Ma Ma refuses to leave the house and the teachers at the new school are less than welcoming.
It is only when Meixing finds some unlikely allies - including a caring support teacher - and the magical glasshouse in the back garden - which glimmers with beauty and secrets and memories - that Meixing can begin to drawn on her inner strength and resilience.
When Ma Ma really needs her, will Meixing find the courage to help her?
This is an own voices story of a young girl's journey towards hope and belonging. The prose is dreamily beautiful, there are sentences you will want to re-read for the pure joy of it.
Meixing is a beautiful narrator who reminds us that it is possible to continue to shine even through the darkest moments.
I loved this book for the magical realism sprinkled throughout, the lyricism of the dreamlike scenes in the glasshouse, and the house (Big Scary, who turns out to be not so scary after all).
I also loved the way in which the power of love and friendship manage to shine through like tiny flickering stars in the darkest of nights.
Books like this one are so important for our children, planting the seeds of awareness in relation to issues such as immigration, displacement, inclusivity and courage.
Thank you so much to the author Shirley for so kindly gifting me an ARC of this beautiful book. I loved having the opportunity to read and review a Glasshouse of Stars, which will be published in May 2021.
Simon & Schuster
Penguin Books Australia