The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

I picked up The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore during a visit to Washington DC in December, when we went to the The National Museum of African American History and Culture, and this was in the museum store. The cover and title caught my eye: how could the stars be beneath our feet if the street is made of Lego, I wondered?

This is the tale of 12-year-old Lolly (real name Lawrence) who is grieving the death of his big brother. He lives in Harlem, New York, with his mom, and seems to be under constant threat from the gangs that rule the different neighbourhoods.

Grief dominates Lolly until his mom’s girlfriend suddenly gifts him massive bags of Lego bricks. Now, creativity pours out of him as he gets lost in building himself an imaginary city, leading him away from the crime and gangs of New York’s streets.

Published in 2017, this book won multiple awards in America. Read an excerpt here, via Entertainment Weekly.

I took my time with this book; at first, it looked like the kind of book that I would devour in less than a week, but the themes here demand to be mulled over and properly digested. I’m glad I didn’t rush it; this is a book that you need to spend quality time with if you want to reap its rich rewards.

“The right story at the right time… It’s not just a narrative; it’s an experience. It’s the novel we’ve been waiting for.” —The New York Times

Here’s the blurb:

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.
His path isn’t clear—and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape—and an unexpected bridge back to the world. 
David Barclay Moore paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge—of adolescence, of grief, of violence—and shows how Lolly’s inventive spirit helps him build a life with firm foundations and open doors.

Highly recommended.


One thought on “The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

Comments are welcome!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s