THE SAME STUFF AS STARS by Katherine Paterson
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 10 - 13
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A gently written tale of family caught in the most corrosive of situations, this is a story of guilt and reconciliation. Indeed there is plenty of guilt to go around. Eleven-year-old Angel and little brother Bernie have “parents that acted like spoiled babies and a great-grandmother who needed a mother as much as they did.” Dad is in jail and the children are at the mercy of their mother’s irresponsible, mercurial moods. She abandons them with their prickly great-grandmother, who lives a hardscrabble life in a ramshackle Vermont farmhouse. Then she returns to “kidnap” Bernie, breaking Grandma’s and Angel’s hearts. After the mother’s drunken boyfriend has an accident in which she is almost killed and Bernie is injured, the family seems headed for reunion. Some characters may have been seen before: from the feisty grandmother with the soft center who herself has failed several generations of children, to her Vietnam-veteran son whose life has been ruined by drugs, but who is one important adult in Angel’s life. Central metaphors are best stated by the wise, elderly librarian (the only truly unselfish adult in the book) to whom Angel turns in each crisis. Miss Liza, the only physically misshapen character in a world of crippled adults, quotes the Bible to remind Angel that God is always mindful of man, that He “hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.” Angel is indeed angelic. She is the selfless caretaker, the responsible “adult” in a world where she’s always left behind and always disappointed by the very adults who ought to love and care for her. If she’s almost too good to be true—constantly buckling seat belts, lecturing on the five food groups, and fussing over proper outerwear in the cold—readers will recognize her and root for her because the odds are so badly stacked against her. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2002
ISBN: 0-618-24744-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2002


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