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We See the Stars

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  55 reviews
A haunting and deeply moving novel with a brilliant voice in the tradition of The Eye of the Sheep and Jasper Jones.

'Mysterious, compelling and almost unbearably tender.' - Danielle Wood, award-winning author of The Alphabet of Light and Dark

Is that the Big Dipper?' Mum asked. Her eyes were bright from the light in them, and they shone in the darkness more than any of the
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 1st 2018 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 3.29  · 
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 ·  180 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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This was a beautifully written story which I felt touched on important topics. Intriguing and moving at times, but I'm afraid there were times when I also felt I got a bit lost and uninterested in the story. In saying that this could've been just me at the time as I'm sure many people who read this book will enjoy it.

So please give this book ago and make up your own mind because, like I said it is a beautifully composed story, it just didn't hold my interest for the entire book. Recommended.

Kate van Hooft has created a very special character in 11y old Simon, the narrator of this novel. He is struggling to find his place in the world. He doesn't like physical contact, hardly speaks and is often consumed by attacks of rage that he calls 'the angries.' The kids at school call him names and his only friends are his younger brother Davey and Cassie, another outcast in his class who has a damaged hand and also has to bear the cruel taunts of the school yard. However, he likes his new te ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 stars
“If you sit out there long enough just in the tall grass you can basically pretend that you’re the only one left on Earth, and that all the other kids are gone, and that you get to be all quiet and still in just your own ears and skin.”

We See The Stars is the first novel by Australian author, Kate van Hooft. Eleven-year-old Simon lives in a country town with his younger brother, Davey and his dad. Grandma is often there when she’s not visiting Grandpa in the hospital. Simon isn’t like o
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Completing a Master of Social Work alongside her work as a disability advisor has put debut novelist Kate van Hooft in good stead for the publication of her first novel, We See the Stars. Kate van Hooft puts Simon, an eleven year old troubled and misunderstood narrator, on the centre stage of her evocative first novel. Simon evokes a unique set of eyes and the reader follows Simon’s journey with a sense of wonder.

We See the Stars brings the moving story of S
Dale Harcombe
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Three and a half stars.
The story is told from the point of view of 11 year old Simon. Simon has a unique and imaginative way of looking at life and describing his feelings. The reader is privy to information that others around him are not as Simon is mostly silent, keeping all his thoughts and feelings inside. That is except when the ‘angries’ come. His mother taught him to try and control the ‘angries’ by counting and it seems to work, mostly. Simon is friendless except for his brother Davey an
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘There’s a lot of things you’re not supposed to do, because bad things happen if you do them.’

Simon, the narrator of this story, is an eleven-year old boy. Simon perceives the world differently from most of us, and the story he has to tell us is shaped by those perceptions. He’s asthmatic, he’s silent, he’s been traumatised. Simon uses numbers and lists to help him to manage. He describes the pain he feels internally as a honeycomb of swarming bees or as birds within his chest.

The novel is set
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars This fell a bit flat for me. It read more like a Y.A book and I’m not sure if that was the author’s intention. The ending was too vague for me .
Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

We See the Stars by Kate can Hooft. (2018).

**Did not finish - read 130 of 326 pages**

Simon is an 11 year old who doesn't talk. Everyone thinks he's weird and his only friends are his brother and Superman. He starts to make friends with a scary girl from school, and the teacher is also interested in him. But then the teacher disappears and only Simon knows where she is but he promised to never now he is the only one who can save her.

Unfortunately I just c
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Although there were many parts I enjoyed in this book for the beautiful writing, on the whole I found the story incredibly confusing. When the story drifted off with Simon's thoughts, I found myself drifting off and not really taking in what was happening, I had to read several passages over again. For me the story didn't flow and I still have no idea about what really happened to several characters in the book. Maybe it's me, and I just wasn't paying enough attention? ...more
We See The Stars is a great read by Kate van Hooft. I enjoyed following Simon through his own words and the circumstances that surround him in his world..
I loved the description of imagery used to describe Simon's emotions and how he makes sense of the world... Cassie is another character I adored in this story and the friendship that forms between her and Simon...

I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending whether i like it or not, however in saying that this story has stayed with me after
Review to follow next week.
Kerrin Wed
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an Advanced Review Copy of We See the Stars.
We See the Stars is the story of Simon, a boy aged 11 years who doesn't speak due to trauma. He likes to live in his own world, but this creates a difficulty for him in that it means he has trouble connecting with others. He has past behavioural problems that have also isolated him.
The book is about Simon, and about how he comes to grips with the world around him. His decisions, leading up to a heartbreaking ending of poignancy and despair
Geoffrey Avery
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Van Hooft’s handling of her narrator’s smudged perceptual world is virtuosic. I was so engrossed in Simon’s quest that the novel’s modernist and Australian-Gothic layers only glowed in the reading’s aftermath, like a comet’s tail. Is this YA or experimental literature? Fabulism or psychological realism? A lyrical, genre-stretching debut.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
Simon is an eleven-year-old boy who lives in a world of silence, lists and numbers. He hasn't spoken for years and at times lives in a fantasy world.
We See The Stars is set in rural Victoria where Simon lives with his Dad and younger brother Davey, and also his Grandma who spends much of her day at the hospital with Grandad.
School is not easy for Simon as the other kids think he is weird and at times he feels his only friends are Davey and Superman who is always there when he needs him. Simon is
Clare Rhoden
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elaine Smith
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simon lives with his father, grandmother and brother in a small country town. His mother is also present in a mysterious way. There are many unknowns as we look at Simon’s world through his eyes, and things may not be as he describes them. Is his view of his world a mirror or a prism? But we must not be deceived into thinking that this is a mystery novel with a solution at the end.

The writing in this book is nothing short of beautiful. The country town in which Simon lives is drawn realistically
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received this book from Allen & Unwin

Such a collection of interesting characters. Simon is 11 and does not speak. Yet he does speak to Superman. Grandpa is in the hospital and Grandma is coming over to look after Simon and his younger brother Davey. Dad is often working and mum is in the bedroom, which sounds empty.

It isn't easy to have friends when you do not speak, but Simon develops a friendship with Cassie, who has a melted hand. Everyone at school is scared of Cassie and there are lots of
Felicity Akins
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have
I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of this book from Allen & Unwin - thank you!. I had mixed feelings while reading this book and also now that I’ve finished, feelings are still mixed. I really wanted more back story and further development of the other characters, but understand that the story was Simon’s and was based on his memories and emotions. His character pulled at my heart strings - he was lost, angry and lonely. The author projected this wonderfully.
Amanda Irene
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Promising storyline, but as the book went on alot of the characters were undeveloped and it became very obscure. Towards the end it was confusing and the ending fell flat. It left alot of unanswered questions for the reader.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed learning about the main character's personality in this novel. Well written and thought provoking ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this debut novel by Kate Van Hooft, I was really looking forward to reading it from the blurb, and it didn't disappoint.

The story is seen through the eyes of Simon, an 11 year old boy who has not spoken for many years and lives in his own super sensory world. At no point is a diagnosis given but it can be construed that Simon is on the Autism Spectrum with a high level of synaesthesia (a neurological trait or condition that results in a joining or merging of senses that aren'
It was interesting to read a book written solely from the perspective of a young boy with a different view of the world, but I found it a bit much. I think some sections from another perspective might have made it more readable. Having said that though, it is a beautifully written novel about friendship and family and grief.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written and compelling story. It's absorbing and heartbreaking and thought provoking. The main character is an 11 year old boy called Simon who is isolated from his peers as different and weird, and misunderstood or overlooked by the adults around him. His strong inner voice draws you into his highly sensory, fragmented and hyper-real world and sinks you deep into mysteries that I feel will continue to resonate long after reading. ...more
Angi Mcauley
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very cleverly written! So beautifully descriptive and a storyline that had me hooked instantly! I really enjoyed reading this book but I felt that the story wasn’t really resolved and the ending left me hanging. Maybe that was the idea!?
Great read! Thank you Kate Van Hooft!
Nola Barnard
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
11 year old Simon is different from the other children in his town and lives very much in his own imaginary world. Overwhelmed daily by his emotions, we get glimpses of a family tragedy that has compounded his isolation. Cassie , another outcast, pushes her way into his life and becomes his only real friend. Their new teacher ,Ms Hilcombe, seems to understand them both but when she disappears in mysterious circumstances, it is only Simon who can find her, for only he knows her secret. I thought ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is masterful story telling. Van Hooft restricts herself to the insights of a traumatised eleven year old, Simon, and yet paints a complex picture of a family in crisis. She also conveys the tensions within a small town, rich v poor, established residents vs newcomers, using this same restricted palette. As readers, we get the bare bones of the story from Simon, and what is revealed in the ending allows us to put ‘meat on the bones’. Along the way we meet a variety of well-drawn characters a ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A very remarkable story. Van Hooft has an excellent ear for voice, age and mental disability so that the characters she creates come alive with the briefest of introductions. The book is written in the first person from Simon’s point of view, but Simon is very unusual and his homelife is challenging (as his mother remains uncommunicative and mainly asleep in her bed). Simon is asthmatic and refuses to speak, he has autistic manifestations but also has alter-egos or imaginary friends one of whom ...more
Jacqui Ryan
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for the chance to read and review “We See the Stars”. This is a powerful first novel from Kate van Hooft. It is evident that Kate has a background in Disability Services with the empathy that come through for the main character Simon
This book is set in Australia in the 70’s. It centres on and is told by Simon, an 11 year old non verbal boy. Australia back then was a different place. It is evident that domestic violence and autism were not supported as
Alice Dowden
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was a disappointing read. I feel the whole narration through the eyes of autism is a little tired and overdone. The author had a challenge before her to add something worthwhile to this genre, but I feel Stars missed the mark. Parts of this style did evoke fleeting tenderness towards some of the characters, but came at a great cost to every other element of the novel.

It would have been more effective in third person because the story and character development was completely lost in the sen
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Kate van Hooft was born and raised in Melbourne to an Aussie mum and Dutch dad. She lives with her husband Paul D. Carter, also a writer.

Kate has a BA in Creative Writing from Melbourne Uni, a Master of Communications from Deakin, and is now completing a Master of Social Work. She has worked for more than ten years in student wellbeing and disability support in secondary and tertiary education.


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