restricted access The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore (review)
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Moore, David Barclay The Stars Beneath Our Feet. Knopf, 2017 [304p] Library ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-0125-3 $19.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-0124-6 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-0126-0 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 4-7

The local gangs near 127th Street in New York City are eager to get twelve-year-old Lolly and his best friend Vega to join up with them, and they offer status and protection in the hood. In trying to steer clear of the groups’ trouble, Lolly’s got no time to grieve over his big brother Jermaine, who died after getting caught up in the exact mess Lolly is trying to avoid. While all the adults in his life want him to talk about what happened, creating fantastical and vast Lego worlds in the storage room at the rec center with Big Rose, a quiet girl, eases Lolly’s mind and helps him to imagine just the life he wants to build for himself. In this story of coping, Moore superbly creates in Lolly a character who unapologetically feels a full range of emotions, and in Big Rose, a girl with undiagnosed special needs, the beauty of wisdom and knowledge grown from circumstance. Too often weighed down by expectations of Black masculinity and fitting in, Lolly transcends the expectations of his surroundings, creating instead an alternate reality both literally in his rec center building space, and figuratively in the stories and histories he crafts to accompany his Lego kingdoms. Readers will marvel at the grandeur of what Lolly and Rose are able to build and learn together and will find comfort in intimacy of Lolly’s introspective narration. Just because you lose loved ones doesn’t mean they’re gone. Perhaps they just become the stars beneath our feet.