Meixing faces a number of challenges when her family moves to the New Land where the familiar has disappeared. The New Land has a new language, a new culture, school life where the children aren’t always welcoming, First Uncle’s perplexing house, and a family tragedy. This middle-grade novel will resonate with many readers, young and old, and would be perfect for families to read aloud together.
Shirley Marr’s latest novel, A Glasshouse of Stars is a brave and tender-hearted story about a little girl coming to terms with her New Life in a New Land.
This OwnVoices story of migration lays bare the racism and violence that migrants may experience, but Marr contrasts this with lightness, also showing that people can be kind, caring and understanding of the migrant experience.
Marr’s protagonist, Meixing is wholly relatable, which comes in part, from the second person narrative style employed within the story. This is an unusual choice as writing from the perspective of second person is extremely difficult to write well without alienating readers, but Marr pulls this off with aplomb!
One of my most favourite elements in A Glasshouse of Stars is the thread of magical realism woven throughout the story. Marr gives us a house called Big Scary whose physical structure reflects the emotional state of her characters. I love the cat in a tuxedo who acts as a gatekeeper to the magical glasshouse in the garden that contains galaxies of possibilities. A Glasshouse of Stars touches on healing and growth. And ancestral spirits make an appearance in line with Marr’s Chinese heritage.
A Glasshouse of Stars is a wonderful middle-grade novel told with bravery and sensitivity. Marr has brilliantly captured a child migrant’s experience, and I confess to being excited about what Marr will write next. I predict this to be my favourite read of 2021!
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