Tethered to Other Stars is perfect for anyone seeking to understand the lived experiences of children threatened by ICE. It's written as middle grade, but is still an enjoyable read for older audiences as well.
I actually ended up DNFing this one, though I think I would still recommend it to children at the library. It did not really hook me right away and I honestly felt kind of bored while reading. I felt really bad about this because I know that Leahy is trying to illustrate the reality for so many children in the US.
For me it was hard to get into at first, but thought that the representation was great in this novel. It definitely speaks to children of immigrants, and allows for children to relate to what the main character was going through. It touches on important issues of social justice and gets the kids thinking!
I absolutely loved this book and it was one of my favorite middle grades of 2023. The voice and writing was fantastic, and this story is so, so important in addition to being layered and nuanced. So excited to see what Elisa writes next!
ARC via Netgalley
This book is one I think middle grade kids should read as it deals with so many issues that most kids go through with fitting in, starting a new school, and finding yourself. However this goes further as the main character, Wendy, and her family constantly live in a state of worry due to not being white in America. Blatant racism, fear of ICE, racial microaggression, the real threat of losing family or friends, and figuring out when to stand up for yourself and when to hold back. All of these play out in Tethered to Other Stars and are handled in a way that comes across more true to life than preachy, which is something that is so important when trying to connect to a younger audience.
“When one person chooses to set their own orbit, the force of their movement can affect the orbits of everyone around them. Wendy’s Law."
The last 50% of this book had me on the edge of my seat just wondering what is going to happen. I experienced all of the emotions while reading this book, from happiness, to anger, to just plain sad. This was an amazing book to read and it had me feeling as though I was really part of the story and had me rooting for all the characters and wishing them the best!
I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you are a child of immigrants or a person who was brought to a different country at a young age, please be aware that this book will open up memories and feelings that you might have stashed away in the furthest corners of your mind.
That being said, I thought this book was good and definitely a book we need. It touches on important issues like immigration, racism, race based violence, and other social justice issues. It was explained very well for middle-grade children!
Wendy, the main character, grapples with her own identity as she tries to navigate a new school in a new neighborhood. She encounters other members of different marginalized groups and her world view is deeply shaken at learning about how each group is targeted by the same people. She starts taking a second look at her lived experiences and the toll the political climate has had on not only her family, but her new friends as well. The book highlights how racism and even internalized racism, is a behavior that is built and nourished around our environment (home, school, society). This might be hard for some to read as it will make them look deep inside themselves and wonder if they have been perpetrators at one point or another. While others will argue that this book will do more harm than good based on the content, I strongly believe that this will provide a good opening point to begin having these tough conversations at home. While this book is middle-grade fiction, people of all ages would benefit from reading this book.
TW: racism (to include bullying, racial terms, and some violence)
Thanks to NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for allowing me to read an eARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Wendy's family moved from South Carolina to Melborn, Ohio when she was just 6. It was a wonderful neighborhood with lots of activity, but a year ago everything changed. Now her Papa had moved them into a fixer-upper in Rooville, a neighborhood in Columbus. He was trying to get them away from the ICE raids, but there is a woman living in the church across the alley behind their house to avoid deportation.
Wendy is going to be attending Leopold Preparatory School for GT students. this public school had just opened admissions to neighboring school districts. She is most excited about the upcoming science fair and the possibility of a summer internship at the Ohio State University planetarium.
Wendy's parents believe they should keep their heads down and avoid bringing any attention to themselves.
Her brother Tom is acting strange and staying out late. Her new friends at school believe they should stand up against oppression, bullying and inequality. (Her and her friends are being bullied at school)
Wendy isn't sure what she should do.
This is a moving story of family secrets, activism, and finding where you fit in.
I am sure my students will enjoy it.
This is such a beautiful story. I grew up with the movie OCTOBER SKY. This book felt like it had a little bit of the vibes from that story: A girl with big dreams and an eye on the sky. A town full of people who don’t see her or understand her. A group of friends who do see her (once she lets them in). And discovering the heroes in your midst.
I loved Wendy’s friend group. She keeps a lot to herself, so at first, there’s a lot of distance between her and her friends. As they slowly get to know one another and build their friendships, she sees that they each have fears and dark things they’ve hidden, too.
Wendy’s Mom is awesome. I love the way she quietly supports her children, sometimes without even using words. I also love that Wendy is the one who makes several pivotal choices and takes critical action that creates change in the story. It would have been easy to let that fall on an older character and have Wendy be a witness to what happens. Instead, she takes charge. Also, I loved the way her taking action gets connected to her love for stars and forces acting in the universe for change.
I loved this book, and I think anyone who loves astronomy or feels scared or alone will find lots to love about this book, too.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.
This is one of the best books I have read ALL year. It tells the story of one family trying to protect each other and keep each other safe. Over the course of the book we see Wendy, Tom, and both of their parents gradually gain the courage to return to the fight and do what is right, even when it’s scary or uncertain. As an educator I saw many parallels to students I have taught over the years. I think this book will serve as a mirror for those who have gone through similar experiences and a window for those who have not, to better understand and gain compassion. I especially recommend this book to ALL adults in our country.
This story was meaningful and well written. Elisa Stone Leahy, the author, is well spoken and I truly enjoyed our interview for the Middle Grade Matters podcast.
Thank you to #NetGalley, Elisa Stone Leahy and the publisher of the book for the eARC copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
7th grader Wendy knows that ICE is lurking in her new community and knows the heartache and dangers it brings. Wendy knows the importance of keeping her head down to make sure her family is not noticed and stays safe. When a woman hides in a church across the street from their new home, it starts to make Wendy's parents very nervous. Soon a bully and a love being taken from Wendy is almost too much for her to handle. Will Wendy be able to a way to help her family and complete her dream of winning the science fair?
A heart wrenching but real life example of what students in my class experience everyday. I look forward to recommending a copy to other teachers so they might be able to share with their students as well. I hope students will see Wendy's courage and strive to have the same courage!
A PAGE TURNER WITH HEART AND SOUL
"Don't get involved," warns Wendy Toledo's father when the family moves to a new town where the church next door is providing sanctuary from the immigration police to a local woman. At first, that's fine with Wendy, who's focused on building a telescope to enter in an upcoming science fair. But when she struggles at her new middle school, where the principal turns a blind eye to bullying, then she learns a secret that puts a close family member at risk from ICE, she can't help but disobey her father's orders. With a powerful, complex story about timely issues ranging from racism, immigration, protests, and life's unfairness, Tethered to Other Stars by Elisa Stone Leahy, her debut, is beautifully written and highly recommended not only for middle graders but also for people of any age who love a page turner with heart and soul.
Parent's/guardians and educators beware! Tethered to Other Stars addresses serious and controversial social and political issues: immigration, social justice, affirmative action, racism, bullying, and more. While the book opened my eyes, as an adult, to the lived experiences of those seeking asylum in the US, I fear that many young readers will not have the context and support to grapple with these issues. I did feel this was a good and worthwhile story- the characters are multidimensional, and the plot is intriguing. The social and political issues would be a great conversation starter, again with the appropriate adult understanding and guidance.
I had one major issue with this book that I don't think I can get past. Throughout the story, there is reference to the main character Wendy's struggle with asthma. When in a stressful situation, Wendy has trouble breathing and relies on her inhaler. While this may in fact be asthma, it seems there is also some anxiety/depression involved. At one of the turning points of the book, we learn, "All she wanted was to leave all of this far behind. She wondered how hard it would be to hold her breath until she passed out." This is a very serious mental health matter, and I felt it was just barely mentioned and then forgotten, with the exception of Wendy's parents briefly mentioning she talk to a therapist a few pages later.
I really struggled with my rating for this book. Despite the powerful main storyline, I cannot give it more stars knowing the seriousness of the issues addressed, some more thoroughly than others, and I fear that will cause more harm than good.
Astronomy, telescopes, family, immigration, racism, bullying, diversity, secrets, and knowing when to fight for what's right . . . these are just a few things you will experience in this beautifully complex story by Elisa Stone Leahy
Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you knew wasn't right? Have you ever just stood there, not saying anything, not wanting to rock the boat? Maybe staying out of things seemed the best course of action. That's always been the case for Wendy Toledo. Born to Latinx immigrants, Wendy is solidly American and doesn't understand why her father's constant concern for her family to remain invisible to immigration police. The goal has always been to act American, to be American, and to draw as little attention to herself as possible. But maybe it's not just OK, but even imperative to step out of line and create your own orbit every once in a while.
When Wendy starts her life at a new school, she befriends a cast of diverse characters who support each other staunchly through small acts of bullying at school. However, over time the bullying becomes more aggressive. Not only that, but the illegal immigrant seeking asylum in the church across the street from her house brings the immigration police much closer to her family's home than the ever wanted. As Wendy's concerns for her family grow, tension increases at school as the bullying intensifies to the point that she may no longer be eligible to win the astronomy internship she longs for. Meanwhile, at home, one of her family members is detained by ICE and her whole world spins out of control. She must find her own orbit, her own voice to make things right.
I loved the complexity of Wendy's character, and honestly, the complexity of the story as a whole. There were times that I was frustrated that Wendy wasn't speaking up for herself, but as the story progressed, it became clear why. Watching her growth and, really, the growth of all the characters, was so beautiful. There are some intense moments in this story and plenty of situations and conversations that really made me think. I have often wondered what it might be like for the children involved in immigration disputes, and this sheds true light on the challenges they face.
I have to warn you, this is a tear jerker, but it is such a beautiful story of humanity, of understanding that there is more to a person that meets the eye, of finding the strength to loose the tether and find your own orbit, your own voice, even when it's scary to speak up. I highly recommend this one for ages 10+
It was so cool to hear about the struggles people of other cultures, because while I know they go through different things than I do, it's interesting to learn about. It was so sweet and I just really loved it.
This is a brilliantly-written book that tackles important, timely issues in an accessible and relatable way for middle grade readers, and it is also a compelling read for adults. When Wendy and her family move to a new town, and Wendy and her older brother Tom know they are supposed to stay under the radar and not draw any attention to themselves, it’s not that simple. So much is happening there, involving immigration and protests, and Wendy tries to stay out of it, but also gradually realizes that she can and must find her courage and speak up. Wendy is passionate about astronomy and eager to win a local contest and also do well in the school science fair, but she has to overcome many obstacles, including bullying and discrimination. Her family is close-knit and loving, but she finds out that secrets are being kept, and risks are being taken, and her brother is in jeopardy. I turned the pages quickly and read this in one sitting to find out what happened to Wendy and her family. I’m so glad this story is out in the world. This outstanding book will surely provide a window for young readers to learn what it feels like to have to worry about their and their family’s safety all the time, and a mirror for those in that situation. Five stars for TETHERED TO OTHER STARS. I look forward to seeing more from this author.
There are so many things I love about this middle-grade book! My favorite aspect is the close love shared by Wendy's family. Mama, Papa, older brother Tom and Wendy are all so beautifully connected, even though they each keep secrets from the other family members. The family has recently moved to a new town, and Wendy and Tom know they are supposed to live quietly without drawing any attention to their family. They aren't sure why, but they suspect it involves ICE officers and families disappearing in their previous town. It is hard for the children to obey the family rules when there is a contest at the library Wendy is intensely interested in. The prizes are all astronomy-related, and astronomy is Wendy's great love. She even claimed she was named after Wendy Freedman, the astronomer, which was in no way true. There is also a science fair at school that will have a judge from the Ohio State University Astronomy Department, and they might be scouting for candidates for a junior internship program at the planetarium!
The book contains bullying, protests, immigration issues, and discrimination within the context of an American-Latino family. Ms. Leahy's tone when dealing with middle-school characters and their circumstances feels authentic. So, too, do her adult characters and their concern for their children. My only caveat for the novel is the ICE officer. He is nasty and looking for opportunities to harass Latinos. This felt too easy to me. I understand that immigration is a central topic in the story, but his character felt slightly over the top. As the book continued, though, the ICE officer's character came together more, and I didn't feel it was a big issue.
Another thing I loved about the novel is the caring shown by the community. The book had many bad things, but so much love shone throughout that one had to feel hopeful for the characters.
This is a wonderful read for middle-school students and anyone older. There are many great lessons to be learned from Ms. Leahy's writing.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins Books, Quill Tree Books for the ARC of this enjoyable and educational book.
Loved this book! I ended up listening to the audiobook offered on Netgalley. The experiences Wendy goes through are so maddening, as a reader who has empathy for others. The character connection with the boy bully who has a hateful police officer dad makes his behavior towards Wendy make sense. Karma is satisfyingly delivered at the end to the bullies. I love that Wendy and the teacher and her allies are able to make positive changes. Realistic!
Dealing with school bullying as well as immigration, sanctuary, and human rights this beautifully written MG novel is the perfect introduction to activism. Wendy learns to navigate both the school hallways and the larger world with compassion and empathy as she seeks to stand for what is right, protect those she loves, and find her own orbit.