Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper

stella by starlight

as a writer and writing teacher, i adored sharon draper’s (2015) stella by starlight.  in this historical fiction, draper weaves together a story of a young girl’s quest to find her voice as a writer and person in a segregated 1930s Bumblebee, North Carolina, which has recently been plagued by the Klu Klux Klan.  as much as this is about stella and her family’s struggles during segregation, this is a book about writing, a book about the importance of telling one’s story.

draper’s poetic, image-rich lines convey a strong sense of storytelling. budding writers can learn from draper’s strong exposition, empathize with stella’s writing frustrations that become evident in her intermittently placed notebook and typewriter entries, and identify with her sense of accomplishment as she becomes more confident as a writer. the music lyrics draper includes in the book can spark conversations about combining texts and how music can serve as a catalyst for writers. my one criticism about writing is that the book’s ending seems to wrap up too quickly in contrast to the beautifully progressive beginning and middle chapters draper composes.  this could be a topic for discussion in book clubs, writing groups, or literature circles.  also ripe for discussion is in what ways this book is about writing, most especially about what motivates us to write or not write during school and out of school and how writing seems (for a lot of us at least) a reflective window into our starlit souls. if we only learn how to open that window.

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