‘A Glasshouse of Stars’ is a sensitively written, dreamlike tale of Meixing who, along with her family, is a recent immigrant from ‘Old Land’ to ‘New Land’. Her newly-inherited house, ‘Big Scary’, becomes a world of childhood imagination and a safe place away from the racism and bullying that she encounters in the New Land. This a tale of friendship and loyalty, and of overcoming obstacles.
I completely understand why Marr chose second person this narrative, as our empathy with Meixing is absolutely vital to our understanding of her view of the New Land. The author explains this at the end of the book, and I applaud her for this decision. However, it does make our reading of this story even more harrowing – as a teacher, I got really angry with some of the children and adults in the book, and got so involved in Meixing’s viewpoint, that I felt genuinely upset for her.
Marr has done a great job in making her characters and situations so realistic, but I did feel that Meixing is so unbelievably vulnerable, and the situations so horrible, that the younger reader may find this book rather traumatic, especially if they have any experience of similar situations. Ma Ma’s grief and depression may be especially worrying for children to read about, and there is no clear conclusion to many of the issues raised, which is unusual in a book for younger readers. Despite it featuring younger characters, I’d maybe recommend this book for ‘upper middle grade’ 11-12 year olds, but as a teacher, I’d be very wary about which children I suggested reading it.
Thank you to Usborne Publishing and NetGalley UK for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.