From the very first pages, I was completely blown away by how lovely the prose of this novel is! In all honesty, pretty phrasing isn’t high on my list when it comes to what makes a novel entertaining, but Shveta Thakrar’s beautiful descriptive writing, coupled with her gift for presenting absolutely natural dialog and emotion, had me lapping up every single word of her gorgeous debut novel.
Star Daughter is the story of Sheetal Mistry from Edison, New Jersey, the daughter of an astrophysicist and an actual star. Not like Hollywood/ Instagram stuff, but a star from the firmament who took human form and fell in love with Gautam Mistry, then an obscure young academic. Charumati of House Pushya hid her divinity for nearly a decade before the Song of Stars pulled her back into the heavens, leaving behind her husband and young, grieving Sheetal. Adding to the trauma of being abandoned by her mother is the constant fear of discovery: the Mistrys know that exposing Sheetal as being half-human would invite curiosity, questions and worse. The only people besides Sheetal and her father who know the truth are Radhika, Gautam’s overprotective sister, and Minal, Sheetal’s exuberant best friend.
Sheetal is sixteen when she meets and falls in love with Dev, a talented, handsome young musician. Were she fully human, this wouldn’t be a big deal, even to their conservative Hindu families; being half-star, however, adds a distinct layer of complication. Sheetal is torn between opening up to Dev and trying to keep her secret, a task made harder by the insistence with which the Song of Stars has recently been calling to her. When Sheetal finds out a shocking secret about Dev’s heritage, her overwhelmed reactions will set into motion a journey that will see her travelling to the heavens themselves to seek aid from her mother, a journey that could have dire consequences for not only herself but for the rest of humanity as well.
Family drama, interpersonal betrayals, artistic competitions and Hindu mythology are all sumptuously portrayed in this YA novel that goes not only into the infrequently trod territory of that last in this genre — I literally had no idea about the nakshatras before I read this book, and I feel like I know a decent amount of Indian mythology both from my voracious reading and from having grown up in Southeast Asia — but also features sensible characters and realistic, unforced plot developments! Given the middling to terrible YA I’ve had to endure recently, this felt like balm to my soul, renewing my faith in the genre even before the warm, touching sentiments of the story made me feel all fuzzy about humanity in general. This is a delightfully affirming novel about finding where you belong and embracing what makes us all unique and wonderfully human, told in the realistic voice of teenagers facing extraordinary problems (also, Minal is The Best!) I literally finished this standalone novel and went looking for more of Ms Thakrar’s writing, and feel like I have to wait foreeeeeeeever till her next book comes out. I’m positive it will be worth it, tho, if this extraordinary debut is anything to go by.
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar was published August 11th, 2020 by HarperTeen, and is available from all good booksellers, including
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