The Stars Beneath Our Feet|David Barclay Moore
The Stars Beneath Our Feet
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The right story at the right time. . . . It's not just a narrative; it's an experience. It's the novel we've been waiting for. --The New York Times

A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother's death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity. Winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent and soon to be a major motion picture directed by Michael B. Jordan

It's Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren't celebrating. They're still reeling from his older brother's death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly's mother's girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly's always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.

His path isn't clear--and the pressure to join a "crew," as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape--and an unexpected bridge back to the world.

David Barclay Moore paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge--of adolescence, of grief, of violence--and shows how Lolly's inventive spirit helps him build a life with firm foundations and open doors.

A New York Times Notable Book
A Time Magazine Top 10 Children's Books of the Year
A Boston Globe Best Children's Book of the Year
Six Starred Reviews

"A fast and furious read in which we meet some amazing people, people that stay with us. David Barclay Moore is an exciting new voice. We definitely haven't heard the last of his brilliance." --Jacqueline Woodson, Newbery Honor and National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming

"The Stars Beneath Our Feet is about the weight of the world on the back of a child, and the creative tools necessary to alleviate that pressure. I found myself rooting for Lolly, and you will too." --Jason Reynolds, Coretta Scott King Honor Winner for As Brave As You


  • ISBN-13: 9781524701246
  • ISBN-10: 1524701246
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Publish Date: September 2017
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.94 pounds
  • Page Count: 304
  • Reading Level: Ages 10-UP

Building a life, one step at a time

In David Barclay Moore’s page-turning debut novel, The Stars Beneath Our Feet, Wallace “Lolly” Rachpaul isn’t even a teenager yet, but growing up in the projects of New York City has stripped him of anything resembling a normal childhood. Every day is a battle to keep away from the neighborhood gangs and to avoid the fate of his older brother, Jermaine. Jermaine’s shooting death just a few months earlier has added a level of anger and frustration to Lolly’s life that he doesn’t quite know how to handle.

Thankfully, the adage “it takes a village” holds true on the streets of Harlem, as Lolly finds that the community he resents also provides a sort of respite from reality. Mr. Ali, the after-school counselor, provides a space for Lolly to pursue his ultimate Lego obsession with the construction of a giant make-believe city. In the process, Lolly gets stuck with Big Rose, the strangest girl in the after-school program. But the two have more in common than they think and end up being each other’s silent cheerleaders.

Despite the best intentions from family, friends and the community, Lolly ultimately must learn that the power of choice lies in his own hands and no one else’s. Will he choose wisely to pave his own path out of the projects, or will he succumb to his brother’s unfortunate destiny? Moore leaves us wondering until the very end.


This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.