In a novel in two voices, a popular teen and an artistic loner forge an unlikely bond — and create an entire universe — via texts. But how long before the real world invades Starworld?
Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?
An unlikely friendship blossoms between two high school seniors…in the deft hands of co-authors Coulthurst (Inkmistress, 2018, etc.) and Garner (Relative Strangers, 2018, etc.), the well-realized main characters and deeply insightful descriptions of complex emotions combine into an unusually thoughtful novel…Readers seeking characters facing challenges with honesty, bravery, and kindness will appreciate this book with its reminder that our outward lives often don’t reflect who we really are. —Kirkus Reviews
Sensitively attentive to the walls teens erect between their family life and their school personae, as well as to the misunderstandings that emerge when people have different approaches to and understandings of emotional expression, this portrayal of two very different girls finding common ground will resonate with people of various identities, cliques, and fandoms. —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
The story offers plenty of growth for both as the girls come to a new understanding of the challenges in their lives, and a realistic open ending without a neat tie-up adds greatly…a well-wrought story about the pitfalls and rewards of friendship. —School Library Journal
Audrey Coulthurst (Of Fire and Stars) and Paula Garner (Phantom Limbs) tactfully navigate the girls’ relationship and Sam’s attraction to Zoe as her "Be a robot. Feel nothing" mantra inevitably fails. Told in alternating chapters from each girl’s perspective, Starworld extols the value of friendship and shows how self-acceptance can come from being oneself with others. —Shelf Awareness for Readers
If you value the power of online relationships, be it through fandom or ones that helped you to keep you connected to old friends, add Starworld to your to-read list. —Hypable (blog)
A warm, funny, and heartfelt escape from reality. —Teen Librarian Toolbox (blog)