The Stars Beneath Our Feet

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

Book - 2017
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Unable to celebrate the holidays in the wake of his older brother's death in a gang-related shooting, Lolly Rachpaul struggles to avoid being forced into a gang himself while constructing a fantastically creative LEGO city at the Harlem community center.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781524701246
Characteristics: 294 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Wallace “Lolly” Rachpaul is twelve years old. Twelve is old enough to feel scared about walking down certain streets alone. Twelve is old enough to consider taking his deceased brother Jermaine’s place in the neighborhood gang for protection. But Lolly still has two places where he feels safe. On... Read More »

Chicago Public Library recommends this title as one of the best books published in 2017.

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Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Nov 06, 2020

Listened to this one a few weeks back. Great story, great narrator. Was initially thinking there might be a disconnect between the intended audience and the themes. A love of LEGO's (younger) is a big part of the story, along with some heavier stuff: poverty, gangs, death of a sibling (older). The more I thought about it, though, that LEGO love was the perfect foundation (ahem) to really dig into those things.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jun 29, 2020

This is a nuanced look at the unique double bind young Black men can find themselves in when they are growing up in an urban, inner-city environment. The important thing here is both 1) the presence of a non-judgmental look at why police and parents may not be able to help and 2) a productive solution is offered to young readers for whom this book is a "mirror" of their own experience: find a young man older than you who has avoided the trap, and ask him how he did it.

OPL_MichelleC Jan 16, 2019

Very well done. A real and touching story about a boy struggling with grief and the survival in Harlem striking up an unlikely friendship with a socially-awkward girl in his after-school program.

The Stars Beneath our Feet follows the story of Wallace Rachpaul, a boy who has recently undergone his brother's death, as he tries to cope with his life from all angles. Living in Harlem, Wallace feels pressurized to join a crew, as he turns to Lego to resolve with his problems, through creativity.
I think this book did an amazing job portraying diversity and covering many topics such as acceptance and friendship. The writing drew me in and captivated my interest from the start.
Though, I loved all the ideas presented in this book, I felt, at times, the book steered off track and due to the many ideas presented, as not all of them were able to shine.
Overall, I really liked the ideas presented in the book, alongside the character development of Wallace, however I felt that all the ideas were not able to reach the potential they could have.
(Reviewed by J.R. for the Cloverdale Teen Book Review Project)

This story is written through the perspective of Lolly, a 12 year old boy who is trying to figure out how to handle the loss of his older brother, along with some other issues.

The book started out incredibly slow, which is a downfall for me. It didn’t really start to pick up and become interesting until the last 80 or so pages. Most of the characters were somewhat lacking in likeability, but I did appreciate the diversity of the cast. The only character I found myself actually enjoying was Rosamund.

In my opinion, what this book didn't provide was a solid plotline. From the first few chapters, I presumed that this was a story about overcoming grief and coping with the loss of a loved one, but it was not. The plot kept jumping from storyline to storyline and I often felt like I was reading a completely different book every few chapters.

What I did enjoy was the creative aspect of the book and the bond that developed between Lolly and Rosamund through their passion for Lego. I liked reading the parts where these two characters would spend their time after school building their own cities made of Lego. The cover of this book beautifully showcases this aspect of the story.

All in all, I think what this book really needed was one plot line that it would follow throughout the entire course of the story to make it more cohesive.

'The stars beneath our feet' by David Barclay Moore is a remarkable novel written about a boy in New York City who deals with the pressure of gangs, drugs, and violence while mourning the loss of his older brother. He finds the one thing he truly loves and sticks with it throughout the bad and the good things life throws at him. The author shows us the vulnerable side of a boy who is expected to be a man and to pull out a gun if needed, but Lolly is different and the reader gets an insight in how hard it is to be a boy when everyone expects you to be a man. This book shows readers how to take the memories you have of a person you lost and remember the good and celebrate their life instead of drowning in sorrow. When most kids were completing their homework and going to movies with friends, Lolly was trying to deal with the loss of his brother. The guilt and the helplessness he feels throughout the book is just so real and something anyone can connect with by just reading the book. It shows us the emotional and the crazy side of being a human being but also how another human will always be with you to go through the sadness with you. We need more raw, emotional and authentic books like this one where the readers connect with the characters and emphasize with the author. Legos for Lolly symbolize something that is out of this world and something that he finds peace with. He can create anything he wants to with these Legos which means nothing bad ever has to happen to him or to the characters that he creates, which means he does not have to get hurt like he does in real life. I would highly recommend this novel for anyone looking to deal with issues such as gangs, drugs, loss of a family member or to anyone just looking to finding themselves, amidst all of life’s problems! -Manraaj Grewal

Feb 13, 2018

How do you find your way and take the high road when you live in a project in Harlem? How do you come to terms with your brother’s murder, when you know your brother is involved in criminal activities? Luckily, Lolly is able to think for himself and is surrounded by adults who care for him, whether it is his mother, her girlfriend, or the man who owns the bodega where Lolly shops. Moore tells a well thought out story with believable characters. These aren’t goody goody kids, these are real kids with real problems.

Feb 09, 2018

This story really grew on me. It was believable and we watched Lolly growing and changing in a realistic way in relation to his environment and experiences. Loved the way the book on architecture and the Legos transformed the lives of him and his friends. A great read for middle grade boys, especially those who love to build with Legos.

LPL_JennyC Feb 05, 2018

Lolly has lost his brother to gun violence and now he’s so angry all the time. How can he escape the pressure of his unbearable feelings? Kids want him to join their gangs and he's always on the lookout when he walks home. One night he throws all his Legos to the floor in frustration and when he starts to rebuild with them a new path opens for him...
I loved this book! The characters are fresh and authentic, the writing flows, and the story of Lolly at his breaking point feels vitally important. Highly recommended for 10 and up!


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