The Star that Always Stays

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Modern Age

The Star That Always Stays
Author: Johnson, Anna Rose
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1914
Geographic Area: North America
Country: United States
Topics: Ojibwe Nation Indigenous Americans
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Upper Middle Grade
Format: Chapter Book
Published: 2022

American History > Modern Age > Indigenous American History

When bright and spirited Norvia moves from the country to the city, she has to live by one new rule: Never let anyone know you’re Ojibwe.

"INSPIRING."—Kirkus Reviews "A NEW CLASSIC."—Southern Bookseller Review

Growing up on Beaver Island, Grand-père told Norvia stories—stories about her ancestor Migizi, about Biboonke-o-nini the Wintermaker, about the Crane Clan and the Reindeer Clan. He sang her songs in the old language, and her grandmothers taught her to make story quilts and maple candy. On the island, Norvia was proud of her Ojibwe heritage.

Things are different in the city. Here, Norvia’s mother forces her to pretend she’s not Native at all—even to Mr. Ward, Ma’s new husband, and to Vernon, Norvia’s irritating new stepbrother. In fact, there are a lot of changes in the city: ten-cent movies, gleaming soda shops, speedy automobiles, ninth grade. It’s dizzying for a girl who grew up on the forested shores of Lake Michigan.

Despite the move, the upheaval, and the looming threat of world war, Norvia and her siblings—all five of them—are determined to make 1914 their best year ever. Norvia is certain that her future depends upon it... and upon her discretion.

But how can she have the best year ever if she has to hide who she truly is?

Sensitive, enthralling, and classic in sensibility (perfect for Anne of Green Gables fans), this tender coming-of-age story about an introspective and brilliant Native American heroine thoughtfully addresses assimilation, racism, and divorce, as well as everygirl problems like first crushes, making friends, and the joys and pains of a blended family. Often funny, often heartbreaking, The Star That Always Stays is a fresh and vivid story directly inspired by Anna Rose Johnson’s family history.

Emily's Review

If you love books like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, then you are going to love The Star That Always Stays. This story was absolutely delightful. Norvia is a 14-year-old girl who is dealing with some big life changes. Her parents divorced, which in 1914 is taboo, and now her mother has just remarried. If that wasn't enough, they have to leave her beloved Beaver Island to move to the city to live in her step-father's home. She dreams of going to high school to further her education and becoming the heroine of her own story. But will she fit in here? How will people treat her when they discover her parents are divorced or that she's part Indian?

The characters in this book were all so lively and vivid. Dicta in particular was so much fun, I found myself laughing whenever she was present in the story. I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age story and throw in a bookish heroine who is just doing her best to fit in and I'm sold. This book is all about being proud of where you come from and learning that you can only control your own actions and not those of other people.

This book was pure joy. I was sad to close the book and say goodbye to Norvia and her family. I desperately hope the author will write more stories about them. I highly recommend this one for kids ages 10+.

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