The Stars Beneath Our Feet

Lolly Rachpaul's older brother, Jermaine, was shot and killed a few months back and Lolly keeps erupting in anger. He's scared, too. Living in the St. Nick projects in Harlem, he's always on guard. Some of the older kids in the neighborhood are pressuring Lolly to join a "crew," but what Lolly really wants to do is keep working on the one thing that, as he says, "Makes me me": Legos.

Following the kit instructions has always been important to him, but after Jermaine's death, Lolly begins creating cities. When his mother's girlfriend starts bringing home garbage bags full of cast-off Lego bricks from her custodian job, Lolly's ambitions--and his city--grow.

Soon, he moves his building site to the community center, where he finds a measure of peace for the first time in months. When a girl he and his classmates call Big Rose shows up at the door wanting to build, too, Lolly is furious: "My world felt hijacked." Little by little, though, he finds that it is nice to share his passion for building--or for a life that does not involve a gang. His new approach to designing structures from scratch, inspired by his travels through New York City to visit the buildings he reads about in an architecture book, starts to carry him toward a future that has more possibility than he imagined.

David Barclay Moore's magnificent debut novel, The Stars Beneath Our Feet, is named for the glittery stars on the sidewalk Rose creates in her perfect replica of the projects, representing the lives lost in their community to drugs and despair. Rose frequently repeats, almost chanting, the words her grandmother once told her: "Your mama, your daddy--they were buried under the ground, but they're stars now, girl, stars beneath our feet." --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

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