I received an e-ARC from the lovely K. Ancrum herself in exchange for an honest review. This book was one of my most anticipated of 2019, and it definitely lives up to the hype.
Set in a parallel future where NASA has become a wing of the military, The Weight of the Stars follows Ryann Bird. When she was younger, Ryann’s mother worked for NASA, and it looked like Ryann would follow in her footsteps. Instead, both of her parents died and she had to abandon her dreams to help support her younger brother’s baby.
Ryann has a bad habit of accepting misfits into her social circle. This gets the best of her when Alexandria, the daughter of a woman who took a one-way trip into space, moves into her school district. Alexandria is her toughest project yet, but after injuries, misunderstandings, and a break and entering, they come together. Slow burn romance at its best.
Ancrum has a knack for writing characters of all backgrounds with tact and grace. Ryann grew up in a trailer, but her character arc moves far beyond “white trash” stereotypes. She also features a polyamorous trio, which is almost never brought up in YA books or even the YA community in general. Ancrum doesn’t shy away from the complexities of sexuality. Sometimes people do fall in love with more than one person at once, or with someone of a gender that they’re not usually attracted to.
There’s this moment I really love where Ryann recounts a time she told one of her guy friends, Tomas, that she usually preferred girls but something about him still attracted her. He told her he was really only into dudes. It was a really honest moment that could easily be cut, avoiding the complication it brings to the plot. But I believe so many teens will read this and finally feel seen. The cookie cutter, boy-meets-girl romance doesn’t fit every relationship or every teen, and I’m so glad to see an author brave enough to create a few more windows and mirrors in literature to address this.
There are some really fun tie-ins and easter eggs from The Wicker King, so I highly recommend picking that one up if you haven’t read it already. I was slightly disappointed at not seeing the epistolary/mixed-media nature of The Wicker King carried on in this companion novel. However, it does make a little sense, since the heart of the story really is Ryann, and not so much the relationship between her and Alexandria.
From a production standpoint, this book is gorgeous. The cover, the typesetting, the layout, the full-page bleeds. . . you can tell that the production department at Imprint really took a shine to this story (and The Wicker King!).
The sparse writing style was at times plain, at times lyrical, reminiscent of Lynne Rae Perkins, Jerry Spinelli, or Laurie Halse Anderson. It bent time and space to account for its subject matter. You always feel the important moments.