Review: Tethered to Other Stars by Elisa Stone Leahy

Tethered to Other Stars by Elisa Stone Leahy cover shows a girl sitting on the floor with her knees pulled up, her face turned away. A telescope sits on the floor behind her. A stack of papers on the floor in front of her. Stars and a planet hang from wires around her.

Tethered to Other Stars
Elisa Stone Leahy
Quill Tree Press
Published October 3, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Tethered to Other Stars

Perfect for fans of EFREN DIVIDED and A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE, this luminous middle grade debut follows a tween girl navigating the devastating impact of ICE’s looming presence on her family and community.

Seventh grader Wendy Toledo knows that black holes and immigration police have one thing in common: they can both make things disappear without a trace. When her family moves to a new all-American neighborhood, Wendy knows the plan: keep her head down, build a telescope that will win the science fair, and stay on her family’s safe orbit.

But that’s easier said than done when there’s a woman hiding out from ICE agents in the church across the alley–and making Wendy’s parents very nervous.

As bullying at school threatens Wendy’s friendships and her hopes for the science fair, and her family’s secrets start to unravel, Wendy finds herself caught in the middle of far too many gravitational pulls. When someone she loves is detained by ICE, Wendy must find the courage to set her own orbit–and maybe shift the paths of everyone around her.

Tethered to Other Stars on Goodreads

My Review

This is such a beautiful story. I grew up with the movie OCTOBER SKY. This book felt like it had a little bit of the vibes from that story: A girl with big dreams and an eye on the sky. A town full of people who don’t see her or understand her. A group of friends who do see her (once she lets them in). And discovering the heroes in your midst.

I loved Wendy’s friend group. She keeps a lot to herself, so at first, there’s a lot of distance between her and her friends. As they slowly get to know one another and build their friendships, she sees that they each have fears and dark things they’ve hidden, too.

Wendy’s Mom is awesome. I love the way she quietly supports her children, sometimes without even using words. I also love that Wendy is the one who makes several pivotal choices and takes critical action that creates change in the story. It would have been easy to let that fall on an older character and have Wendy be a witness to what happens. Instead, she takes charge. Also, I loved the way her taking action gets connected to her love for stars and forces acting in the universe for change.

I loved this book, and I think anyone who loves astronomy or feels scared or alone will find lots to love about this book, too.

Tethered to Other Stars on Bookshop

Content Notes for Tethered to Other Stars

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Wendy is Latine and American. Wendy’s friend Mal is Korean American. Her friend Yasmin is Muslim and wears a hijab. K.K. is Black. Etta is gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Wendy feels attracted to a boy briefly.

Spiritual Content
Wendy learns that her friend retreats to a safe space at school to pray.

Violent Content
Scenes show bullying and microaggressions. For example, kids deface K.K.’s campaign posters and posters about a Unity Club for inclusivity. Anti-immigrant graffiti appears on the walls. A boy also tries to take credit for Wendy’s work on a science project, insinuating that she is lazy and hasn’t helped him at all.

Characters in the story follow the case of a woman who takes refuge at a church to avoid deportation. Some characters refer to her as “illegal,” and others explain how that term is dehumanizing. A person can’t be illegal. She can do something which is illegal, but she can’t be illegal herself.

Drug Content
A teenager smokes a cigarette in a parking lot.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of TETHERED TO OTHER STARS in exchange for my honest review.

centered around a girl who loves the stars

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

4 Responses to Review: Tethered to Other Stars by Elisa Stone Leahy

  1. This book sounds excellent! I’d love to read it for the Cybils Awards. You can nominate it here:

    Also, I really like how you include detailed content warnings. I appreciate knowing what I’m getting into when I start reading a book!


    • Kasey says:

      Ohhhh! Are you judging for the Cybil Awards?? I would love to do that someday. I nominated the book (and a few others…). Thanks for the link to the form. You’re welcome for the warnings. My daughter is super sensitive, so I started as a way to track what she might be interested in reading eventually, and it’s obviously grown from there. 🙂 It helps me, too.