“People had to grow on their own, make their own decisions, good and bad. It was those mistakes and the choice or refusal to learn from them that gave life—and art—their texture, their meaning. It had to be a choice.”
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar is a beautiful coming-of-age story about a girl – Sheetal who is half-mortal and half-star. An enchanting tale which is categorized as a YA novel and somewhere in between an epic fantasy and a low fantasy. I’d like to point out at this stage that this book felt more appropriate for a middle school demographic than for young adults.
Sheetal has lived a humanly life while being aware of her starry origin, hidden the real color of her hair, dealt with acne and the miseries of being an outcast in high school. To add to her troubles, as a kid her mother had left her father to ascend back to Sarvlok to her parents. Sheetal is raised by her father and her aunt Radhikafoi who make the stereotypical fantasy-plot mistake of asking her to hide her identity so as to protect her.
Everything goes wrong when Sheetal is unable to control the starry flare within her and accidentally burns her father. She knows the only way to save him is well, asking her mother for help and this is where the adventure begins. The mission is not as straight-forward as she thought it would be. As soon as Sheetal reaches Sarvlok, her maternal grandparents throw her head first into a competition on which the life of her father depends upon.
I really enjoyed the book for the multiple Indian stereotypes like gossipy over-achieving family and family-friends, mention of a Kishore Kumar song, occasional references to Hindu mythology and of course food! I liked the sweet exchanges between Sheetal and her boyfriend Dev, but more than that I loved the friendship shared between the MC and her best friend Minal.
Despite all the enchanting world-building and all the descriptions of the magnificent night sky, the side characters seemed under-developed. The story flowed like stars in a cool constellation but it somehow missed the twinkle they bring. The narrative of the competition also seems a little downplayed as an adult but fits perfectly for teens.
I rate the book 3.5 bookmarks. I’d definitely want to read more from the author and I look forward to her portraying Indians from different parts of our country in her books. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the Gujarati culture captured in the plot and I really wish to get an entry into the night market at least once.
I’d also like to thank Harper Collins India for this beautiful copy of the book.