A Pocketful of Stars

A Pocketful of Stars cover
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby

By Aisha Bushby
Carolrhoda / Lerner, 2023
241 pages

Ages 10-13

Safiya, 13, thinks her mom doesn’t understand her; she certainly doesn’t understand Safiya’s passion for gaming. Safiya (multiracial) suspects that the tension between them wasn’t helped when she chose to live with her dad (white) after her parents’ divorce. When her mom, who is Kuwaiti, has a stroke and ends up in a coma, Safiya is scared and wracked with guilt over their last argument. Visiting her mom in the hospital, Safiya slips into what she first thinks is a dream before realizing she’s moving through her mom’s memories of growing up in Kuwait. Navigating the world of her mother’s young adulthood becomes like a video game quest: After each “visit,” Safiya must determine which object in the memory will unlock the next memory, and then hunt the item down in the real world. It’s a quest that reveals layers of her mom that have remained hidden to Safiya, including her youthful dreams and passions and the challenging relationship she had with her own mother. And it’s a quest that develops urgency when Safiya discovers a locked room at the top of her mom’s childhood home. Through the keyhole she can see her mother asleep on the bed. In the real world, her mom remains in a coma, her condition fluctuating, and Safiya is convinced that if she obtains the key and unlocks the door, she can save her. This intriguing, deeply felt story also explores difficult changes to a longtime friendship, deftly integrating the two storylines. ©2024 Cooperative Children’s Book Center