And the Stars Were Burning Brightly - Danielle Jawando

Nate loved Al, he didn't always say it or show it but the love between brothers is often unspoken. There is now no chance for Nate to tell Al how he really feels and he is left alone in a world that seems to fight against is recovery from grief at every step, only he knows how he can cope with the loss of his brother so why will no one trust him? Getting to the bottom of his brothers suicide is something Nate wants to do alone, so what will he do when Megan tries to find comfort in him when tying to move on from her own grief?

Book Box Club kindly included this book in their subscription box as part of their programme to showcase upcoming 2020 releases. I came into this novel with some fears about how it would have been handled based solely of the synopsis on the back. The main trigger warning for the book is that suicide and graphic mentions as to the actual process Al used were mentioned throughout. As someone who has struggled in the past with my mental health I would strongly recommend that you avoid this book if you are not feeling 100% stable - if any of us ever do in today's current climate.

Whilst it mainly deals with the feelings of grief that surround Al's family, friends and predominantly his brother, Nate, the novel does touch upon stereotypical issues that surround the youth of the UK. We do all deal with grief differently and I cannot comment on how that particular situation must feel but the attitude of Nate didn't feel real to me, his constant need for answers felt more like a writing device to keep the story moving. He pursued his need for answers and due to this a majority of the book was slow-burning because he wasn't getting any. At multiple points throughout the novel I considered DNF'ing because nothing was happening of importance.

Megan was the only character that made me what to continue through to the end, I really wanted to see how her character developed. I'm glad I stuck with the book in the end, Megan's development did come to fruition and Nate even became a nearly likeable character. As a main character Nate was problematic, he was blaming others for only caring about Al now he's dead, but he is the exact same. Looking back this seems like his coping mechanism for not feeling guilty but that wasn't clear when reading. Although the events that led to Al's suicide were seriously traumatic to read it added a level of depth that the story desperately needed.

This was a difficult story to get through however the ending sold it for me. Everyone's development really brought all the dangling threads of plot together and made an ending that brought comfort to all involved, including the reader.

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