Swimming in a Sea of Stars
by Julie Wright
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Pub Date 01 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 15 Aug 2023
Shadow Mountain Publishing, Shadow Mountain
Addison is no stranger to feeling stressed, insecure, and sad. Her therapist recommended she keep a journal to help her understand those feelings better, which she really needs today. It’s her first day back to school, several weeks after she survived her suicide attempt. She knows there are rumors about why she did it: A lousy home life? Bullying? Heartbreak? None of them are true, but it doesn’t matter because Addison still feels like she’s drowning. She still holds secrets she’s not ready to share.
During the school day, Addison encounters four other students struggling with their own secrets:
Booker is anxious about seeing Addison. They were sort of a couple until he tried to kiss her. She fled and then tried to end her life. Those two things couldn’t be related, could they?
Celia feels trapped by her mother’s abusive boyfriend. She can guess why Addison did what she did.
Damion is TikTok-famous and thinks befriending Addison could boost his followers. But what no one knows is he needs the world to remember him since his sick mom doesn’t anymore.
Avery is considered a loner and doesn’t know Addison, but they have neighboring lockers. With Avery’s older brother in jail for dealing drugs, Avery is desperate for meaningful human connection.
Swimming in a Sea of Stars is a poignant and gripping novel about how we’re all interconnected, like the stars in the night sky that form constellations and map out the universe, and if even one star goes missing, the effect is profound.
A Note From the Publisher
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 70 members
Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the ARC of this book coming Aug 2023. The book moved to the top of my TBR pile as I saw theater productions of Dear Evan Hansen twice this past week and I was curious how this YA book covers a teen suicide attempt. The focus of the story isn’t just on one student. The setting is an inner city high school with a diverse student body and economic disparity. The story covers one full day for a small group of teens. It is Addison’s first day returning to school after missing a month because of a suicide attempt. Booker is anxious about seeing Addison as they are friends and were almost a couple. He also has a cousin who is facing cancer. Addison performs and act of kindness towards Celia who is being physically abused in her home. Damion wants to be seen with Addison to improve his Tik-Tok fame but has issues at his house too. Avery has a locker by Addison and use to be friends with Damion. Her brother is in jail for selling drugs.
The book goes from character to character giving their backstory and actions during the day. I like that small interactions can be meaningful. The one comment or act of kindness that can make the world of difference to the receiver. I also like that even though there are bad adults in the story there are also many who are trying hard to do all the right things for these kids. I got the message that you can’t know what is going on with someone or their home life from their outward appearance. And I like how the author gives each person some connection or moment of understanding or friendship during the day.
I think because of the amount big things going on in a short time period I didn’t connected emotionally to any one story. Addison’s story is told through journaling entries she is doing because of her therapist. And I’m going okay that her reasons are alluded to and not graphically detailed. But I wanted to hear the conversation with her mom at the end of the story. And know her mothers reaction.
One thing that stood out to me is that when I was a teen in the 1970’s this book and content wouldn't have been written and available to me. I appreciate that todays teens have YA books that cover hard topics. And if they see themselves in similar situations it encourages them to seek help. And I always love a message that kindness and understanding is never a wrong choice. This is a clean book for language and intimacy, but in includes abuse towards teens and a child. I’ve enjoyed the author before for a historical romance but this is the first YA I’ve read from her. For middle school and up.
This was an insightful read at times, providing glimpses into the lives of different high school students and how their lives intersect. It illustrates how you never know the difference your words and actions might make to someone. To Addison, it was just a hoodie. To Celia it was a lifeline that gave her the courage she needed to act.
In this day and age, I did feel uncomfortable reading about black main characters written by a white woman. There were times it felt incongruent and a little forced. But at the same time, it highlighted inherent racism within society because as a white person, my assumption is that characters are white unless explicitly stated otherwise. Indeed in this book, the only time we're outright told a character's skin colour *is* when they're black.
The ending did feel a bit rushed, with some inconsistencies and contradictions with things that characters had said previously.
Overall a thought provoking read.
Wow let me tell you this book hits you in the heartstrings. Julia Wright did an outstanding job with this book and the teams that she has running through it.
I just reviewed Swimming in a Sea of Stars by Julie Wright. #SwimminginaSeaofStars #NetGalley
Wow, this was a wonderful book! I loved the interwoven stories. While the topics in the book are heavy, the overall feeling of the book is not and I appreciated the way the author was able to discuss such heavy topics without weighing the book down and making it depressing. For being about heavy topics the book is uplifting and I really enjoyed reading it. The book starts on the main character, Addison’s, first day back to school after an extended absence post- suicide attempt. The reader is then able to see how her story weaves into the story of others and the true impact our lives have on those around us even when we don’t realize it. I loved the overall message of the book and really enjoyed reading it. Highly recommend! Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!
Well done. Interesting perspectives, and I liked the way the author handled the teenage voice. Thank you shadow mountain and NetGalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you NetGalley!
So where to start. I wasn't too sure what to expect with this one. At my age, young adult books are truly hit or miss. Especially those covering mental health. I find that a lot of books just don't get it right. BUT, I was pleasantly surprised with this book!
I really liked that the book wasn't focused on just one person, but rather quite a few high school students. There's a diverse population at the school, and this book introduces us to several students coping with their own battles / struggles. I think a lot of teens will find themselves in some of these students and easily relate to their struggles. Interestingly, this book only covers one full day for these students. I actually liked that aspect. Our "main character" is Addison, whom has just returned back to school after a suicide attempt. [ relatable for many, right? ]. The author did a good job at covering this topic sincerely and not ... making it.. fake or sugarcoated which is so very important.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book to others and read others by the author.
Everyone has their struggles, and sometimes, they don't just affect us but others as well. A ripple effect if you will. This is a lovely story that anchors Addison's story as the center while it follows the lives of four others who are dealing with their own challenges, may they be related to their families, friends or themselves. The friendships are so sweet and I like that, despite the romantic teasing here and there, it's never the focus. It's always about reassuring one's worth and that everyone is precious.
Thanks to Netgalley and Shadow Mountain for providing me with the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the ARC of this book coming Aug 2023.
This story switches between multiple narrators, slowly culminating with how each one relates or is influenced by the other. Our primary narrator is Addison who is writing in her diary every hour on her first day of school after returning from a suicide attempt and what led her to her attempt and the whys behind her wanting to leave and to stay. The story covers her full day, start to end, with each chapter starting off with her diary entry for that hour and then having several other characters point of views being told and the problems they are facing on that day.
We have Celia, who is being abused at home, Damion who is becoming a Youtube and social media star with his animations, Avery who is dealing with the consequences of a brother in jail for selling drugs, and Booker who was friends with Addison and dealing with the a cousin who is going through cancer. As the day goes on, we see how each character connects and effects the others day in positive ways that slowly help change each of their lives. As the characters move through out the day, we see how even minor interactions can positively change lives. which matters when you can feel that you don't matter to anyone. The story is shaped in a way that showcases that our interactions and choices do matter.
I feel this book does a great job going between both female and male narrators and having an authentic voice when it comes to young adult lives. Each character felt distinct while some of their problems felt a bit stilted and somewhat over simplified. Damion's online bullying and home life could have used more time or space in the book and Booker's interaction and backstory was also limited. Avery's problem seemed low stake, given the backstory of the character, which ended with her having some of the most impacts on the other students' lives. Celia's story, along with Addison's, have the grittiest backgrounds and their stories delve into the darker side of human nature and childhood.
Overall, I feel this is a good story and I recommend this for grades 8 and up.
This book was hard to read. It's a needed topic to talk about, but it's tough to read.
It took me a bit to get into the writing and find the flow. There were multiple characters and we figure out how they all intertwine and how it all had an affect on Addison.
A tough, but good read.
Thanks NetGalley for this ARC.
This book was heartbreaking. It wasn't easy to read or the most fun read, but I'm so glad I did and I fell in love with all these characters.
I'm not sure why, but I truly thought this book would be mostly Addison and her journal entries, but all the characters crawled into my heart and I want them all to be so happy and healthy. The addition of the others characters added so much to the story and the fact that the whole book takes place over the course of one day was so unique and showed what a difference a day makes.
I thought I would be able to pick my favorite characters, but I love them all and want to protect them so much. The only part of this book I had a hard time with was believing that all these high schoolers would be capable or emotionally competent to have these conversations all day. I sure hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I would have loved the story as much if they had been tiny tennage jerks so I'll take it.
The writing in this book is gorgeous and heart wrenching and both awful and wonderful and you'll have to read it for youself to understand the complexity and contradictions.
Addison is no stranger to feeling stressed, insecure, and sad. Her therapist recommended she keep a journal to help her understand those feelings better, which she really needs today. It’s her first day back to school, several weeks after she survived her suicide attempt. She knows there are rumors about why she did it: A lousy home life? Bullying? Heartbreak? None of them are true, but it doesn’t matter because Addison still feels like she’s drowning. She still holds secrets she’s not ready to share. The book goes from character to character giving their backstory and actions during the day. I like that small interactions can be meaningful. The one comment or act of kindness that can make the world of difference to the receiver. I also like that even though there are bad adults in the story there are also many who are trying hard to do all the right things for these kids. I got the message that you can’t know what is going on with someone or their home life from their outward appearance. And I like how the author gives each person some connection or moment of understanding or friendship during the day.
his book is nice for it explores the issues about mental health which sometimes people are too afraid to talk about. Since it was set only in a day, I don't think it provided the characters enough exposure for the reader to get to know them.
Overall, I could say that it's a decent story, but it would have been nice if the author had provided an epilogue to explain what happened to everyone particularly when some of them just faded towards the end.
Thank you, NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an e-ARC of this book. Just from reading the synopsis alone, I knew that this book would be an emotional read, addressing a lot of difficult topics. Told in multiple POVs, the book tells the stories of different individuals with different backgrounds, and reminds us readers that there is always more to a person than what meets the eye. That those who are suffering the most inside may be the ones who look the happiest or most carefree. That negative emotions like fear, anxiety and depression takes the form of a normal human. Especially in a society like today where it seems like the status quo is to put on faces and “pretend” as if you have your whole life put together, this book serves as a great reminder to be compassionate and empathetic. To be willing to reach out and ask others how they are feeling, and how we could help.
Another intriguing aspect of this book I found really enjoyable is how it deep dives into the personal issues faced by the main character’s acquaintances. It shows that what happens to her would also significantly affect those around her, and this too, serves as a reminder that, in the event of a loss of life, it is not simply about the person who is now no longer here, but also about those that are left behind. Moreover, I really enjoyed how all of the characters, despite leading different lives, are entwined to one another, showing that the world is much smaller and interconnected than we think. And the fact that the author does not victimize the characters and turn it into a pity party makes the intended message of the story even more powerful.
Admittedly, there were some parts of the book that seemed like it wrapped up a little too easily — which may be the consequence of addressing so many different points simultaneously — and there were some scenes that I hoped were fleshed out. For instance, I really wanted a full scene between the MC’s mother and herself when she finally revealed the challenges she had been facing, rather than the text suddenly cutting from the point where she was about to talk to her mom to the point where the conversation already ended. I also hoped that Celia’s story was more integrated with the others’, as hers was mostly independent. And even though her story was crucial, given that the other characters’ stories were intertwined, it left hers a bit out of place.
Nonetheless, it was still such an incredible read, and the way that it ended in a hopeful tone serves as a heartwarming reminder that, regardless of all the darkness that one may be plagued with, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.
I just finished this story and tears are still slipping down my cheeks. More importantly though, the message of hope and the significance of each and every person and action provides comfort. So many meaningful and significant quotes/thoughts that have my heart poignantly reflecting upon. For example, Your one light in the sky of a million stars matters. The story looks at a day in the life of five primary high schoolers. So much personality, insights, and character development packed in what felt like a small package. It is a YA book, so it read easily and quickly, but WOW, did it hit hard. Being surrounded by teens made these characters come to life. So many of their thoughts and stories resonate with what I hear around me. Having people bold enough to see you, be your friend, and speak a moment of truth or just simply share a meaningful moment with you cannot be underestimated. I feel like the narratives and insights capture these moments beautifully. My heart is full and my mind will be pondering for a long time. I would like to thank the author, Julie Wright, for her boldness on writing such a daunting topic. Suicide can never be handled lightly or flippantly; Wright handled it honestly and respectfully. I loved the perspectives of the one who attempted suicide as well as the impact it had on others. There’s a lot of maturity portrayed throughout the dialogue, so I would absolutely be in favor of allowing my teens to read. I think it opens and allows for healthy and meaningful conversations. There are many trigger topics, so please be aware, but know that they are handled carefully, respectfully, and redemptively.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.
I was not truly sure how I would feel about this book. I recently lost a friend to suicide, and have watched others deal with the same loss, and was not sure how this would affect me.
This is well written, with multiple points of view, with teens going through so many things that my life never had to go through. Each of these characters have such poignant stories, stories that I didn't want them to stop. I want to know what happens after this one day look into their life.
I loved the way the author took you into the characters minds, and showed us how one small thing, one smile, one thank you, can make a difference in someones life. We really don't realize how that one thing can help someone.
A wonderful story for teens and adults. It opens a window in the daily lives of teens. So many of these kids, in the story, interact with each other in a daily basis, not always knowing how one small act of kindness can have a huge impact on others. This is true for everyone, every day. Gossip never helps. We could all help lift one another. The light from each star is noticed, if we just take the time to truly see.
I don't usually go for books with multiple points of view, but I genuinely enjoyed SIASOS. Everyone had a very different internal voice and perspective to share. Suicide is a heavy topic to cover in less than 300 pages, and especially for a YA novel, but Wright executed it perfectly. Proper representation in books like this is so important for younger audiences.
My only real complaint was that it took me up until at least half way through to feel any real connection with certain storylines, but even then I still loved the plot and link between characters.
4/5 starts, check trigger warnings
this was a really good! I liked the characters, and they were super well-developed. the plot was super cool and fun to read, and the writing was also smooth and easy to understand
Amazing book about teen life and life in general. We never know what pain lies beneath our public faces. This book helps explore possibilities that are seldom talked about, but should be.
This was a really good, “thinking” book. It felt so genuine and human, while also giving some good food for thought.
A good fit for the YA category.
This book pulls at your heartstrings but is also uplifting and positive. The book begins with Addison (main character) returning to school after being out for a time due to a suicide attempt. Her fears and thoughts are portrayed through journal writing and her story intertwines with four other teens who are also dealing with issues of their own. The story is told through multiple perspectives and covers one full day. I thought the author did a wonderful job in illustrating that we often have an impact on another person's life without even knowing that we did. My favorite part was the interaction between Addison and Ceclia in the school restroom. I embraced each teen as I learned more about them as the story unfolded. Wright did a beautiful job respecting the mental health issues in the story and was empathic in how the interactions played out. I feel that this book would appeal to young adults and highly recommend that they read it. It's a powerful little book that is thought provoking and shows that every individual has worth and that being kind is something that we all should strive to be.
Swimming in a Sea of Stars is an interconnected story starting with Addison Thoreau who attempted to take her own life.
It follows four people including Booker who attempted to kiss Addison before she fled, leading him to believe…what is he supposed to believe what happened unless he speaks with her but she is hesitant to speak with him after she returns to school.
To be honest, I was here for Addison and wanted to find out why she attempted suicide as a way out. I grasped the information that was given but not a lot was given, and I did not “feel’ the interconnectedness with the three other characters, again I wanted more information than was given. Dealing with the issues that were raised in the novel was very serious but maybe I wasn’t the right audience for this story. I have read a previous novel by Julie Wright and that was my primary motivation for reading, Swimming in a Sea of Stars. I would’ve preferred an emphasis on Addison's story, a little more information, and maybe a more organic interconnectedness stemming from her story that would reach out to the other characters in this story.
However, I am glad I continued with Swimming in a Sea of Stars because in the end things were redeemed and I was able to see what could be seen through Swimming in a Sea of Stars in the beginning that you might not see the interconnectedness, if you stick around long enough, meaning that perseverance does pay off in the long run. Don’t give up because it can all come together if you allow it. Don’t let your light burn out.
My gratitude to Netgalley and Shadow Mountain. All opinions are honest and mine.
Swimming in a Sea of Stars definitely delves into a lot of tough topics but these are topics that need to be discussed. Because the book is set in a short time span, I feel like the author is only able to scratch the surface of the mental health issues the characters are dealing with but she gives her readers a positive sense that there is hope and encouragement from others out there. She demonstrates that there is someone to help and that we are all connected in ways we may not even understand. A must read for young adults today. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Swimming in a Sea of Stars was a book with so much emotion. I will warn you it is a book about near suicide of a teenager, that is part of the focus there was so much more to the story. This story is told from the view of several students. Addison is hurting and not knowing how to deal with that emotion nearly had her ending her own life. This story takes place on her first day back at high school, which is hard for her knowing that most of the students know of her attempt. This story deals with hard subjects, suicide, divorce, cancer, abuse, drugs, illness, therapy and bravery. It is a book that is so needed. What a well written novel. Thank you NetGalley, Shadow Mountain and of course the author Julie Wright.
Addison returns to school after being absent for a month due to a suicide attempt. Her story connects with four other students, each with their own hardships. The author presents all five viewpoints which can be confusing at times. A compelling read. Thank you, Net Galley and Shadow Mountain Press for the opportunity to read this candid story. My opinions are my own.
I loved this book. I thought that the journal review at the beginning of every chapter was going to annoy me, but I actually enjoyed it, it allowed me to see inside a character more than I really have before. The spectrum of character trials was very well thought out, and I loved how they all came together in the end. This book can teach us a lot of things about others, and ourselves. I know that this book can have a big impact on people.
I appreciated how this book shows the power of stepping outside your comfort zone to connect and relate to those around you. It also reminds readers that any person can make a huge difference in the world even when they are completely unaware of the difference that their existence makes. Addison's return to school impacts four other teens' lives in ways she may never realize and she makes the first steps toward healing from her past traumas. Even though this book takes place over the course of one single day, the author shows readers how choosing to take a step in the right direction, one day at a time, can get you headed in the right direction.
I appreciated how each character made progress on their journey to dealing with their personal struggles and how the author gently discussed topics in a way that reduced possible trigger warnings for sensitive readers. The author does give the reader all the answers to the questions of life, but ends the book with an opening for in-depth discussion. There are several follow-up questions that would make this book useful in a book group or to help parents and teen learn to communicate about traumas and inner turmoil.
I enjoyed the writing style and found it easy to empathize with the characters. It was a little difficult to keep some of the stories straight (some of the girls have similar struggles they are dealing with), but by the end, I was happy with the resolutions for each character. I would definitely read more from Julie Wright in the future and I hope this book encourages other readers to notice others around them and remember to be aware of small actions that can make a huge positive impact in the lives of others.
This book totally drew me in from the first page. I don't always like books with several narrators, but I liked each of the five here. I also really enjoyed seeing how their interactions impacted each other, just small things or words that were just the nudge that another character needed to think about things (including each other) differently. I appreciated the honesty of the emotions. I think that's my favorite think about a well-written YA book; the emotions are palpable. In a book that covers topics of attempted suicide, abuse, cancer, etc., those emotions and the plot could have become overwhelming, but I think Julie Wright did a great job of finding the balance of not making them too much for the reader while still making them real and not sugarcoated or overly simplistic. I also liked the feeling of hope as the book progressed. With a book that covers so much--and all occurs in one day--realistically, we're not going to see everything resolve perfectly, but I think where it ended for each character was hopeful. Part of me really wanted an epilogue because I'd love to know what happened to each character, but I also wonder if it could have felt believable; the characters still have a lot of emotional work to do and skipping that to include an epilogue might have diluted their experiences and the power of their processes of coping and learning and growing.
This book covers important topics and is very well-written. I definitely recommend this to teens and adults alike.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
“…it isn’t about the people who remember you when you’re gone. It’s all about who you remember while you’re here.”
Swimming in a Sea of Stars is a moving novel about a group of teens all struggling with different seen and unseen challenges, and how they learn to help others to help themselves. My favorite part was that the teens each had moments where they felt awkward talking to people who were different or struggling with things, and they learned that even when they might not know what to say, just saying something, however awkward it might feel, can help someone for the better. I strongly recommend parents read this with their teens and talk about how they can help others even when they might know what to say. It only takes something as small as saying hi that can change a life!
Oh my heart! I thought that this book would be heavy and sad with the topic(s) addressed. But it wasn't. It is so well written! I couldn't stop once I started. I loved this group of students. Some knew each other and some didn't.
The way the author wrote the book starting at the beginning of the day for Addison and finishing the book at the end of the same day was clever. Yes, it's just a day snapshot but there's so much that can happen in a day.
I also really loved the theme of everyone having their struggles and that a lot of the time those struggles aren't shared or talked about. But they are there and we need to be careful in recognizing that and being there to love and support, to be kind and give strength to each other. What a powerful and wonderful thing that these students learn!
I hope everyone who reads this will take heart that theme and lesson. What a difference doing so could make in our lives, others lives and the whole world's lives!!!
I don't want to go into details but just want to reiterate how much I loved this book! I'm so glad I took a chance on it. Honestly, I couldn't stop until I finished it!!! And even with the topics discussed I want my teenagers to read it!
Content: Clean. There is talk about suicide, suicide prevention, abuse (physical/sexual), drug distribution, pregnancy out of wedlock. With all of those listed I'm sure you're thinking how is this clean. I promise you that the author wrote this book with great sensitivity to those topics. They are mentioned just in the sense that they are happening and not in great detail. The students/characters were well written in how they supported and found help in these situations! Honestly very well done and one I HIGHLY RECOMMEND for parents and youth to read!
I received a copy from the publisher, Shadow Mountain Publishing, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing, and I'm voluntarily leaving a review; all opinions are my own.
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction, Sad Books, Mental Health
Format: Multiple POVs
Content: Talk about suicide, abuse, drugs, bullying, physical health
Can I just say this book sort of wrecked me.
There is so much going on in high school, and the stress kids face is real. So even though this is fiction, it is a lens on reality. Teens need more empathy from adults and each other. School can be rough. And sometimes home is even rougher.
As we follow each thread of a person's story, we can see how it weaves in with other people, and how we can affect one another. The power in this novel is seeing how simple acts have great consequences—both bad and good. I felt like the descriptions were not too intense or specific to potentially cause harm but to bring awareness to problems.
This is definitely a heavy novel but so important to read to understand better.
It specifically says it was written for suicide prevention.
I think high schoolers going through rough patches will find this book to be helpful to know that no one is alone. To hopefully find the courage to reach out. And to be a friend to others.
I hope you read it as an adult too.
We all need to know how to help others in need. This is actually a story full of HOPE. And there is beauty in healing and coming to trust others.
I highly recommend this book!
<b>Content Warnings: Suicide (no details), drugs (no details), abuse (minor details)</b>
This was a beautifully written and heartwarming YA novel. It depicted difficult topics with thought provoking characters. The stories of five teens are told using multiple POVs with one character having mostly journal entries to tell their story. This novel is about connections and how it only takes a small act to completely change someone's life. It's a novel I wish I had access to when I was in high school.
<blockquote>It’s about the people you remember, not the other way around. </blockquote>
Though it deals with difficult topics, this novel is most definitely a YA novel. I would say that the target audience is 13 and up, but I think the message is important, even for adults.
Review will be posted on Instagram by or before publication date (@ellie.reads.a.lot)