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.