Book Review: Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill

Published by Bodley Head, 31st January 2014.

18041951Goodreads Synopsis: Amina’s homeland has been ravaged by war for many months, but so far she and her family are safe, together.

When a so-called liberating force arrives in the country, the family think their prayers for peace will soon be answered, but they are horribly wrong . . . The country is thrown into yet further turmoil and Amina’s family is devastated . . .

Through it all, Amina has her imagination to fall back on – of a better place and time. But can her stories get her through this?

My Review: I’ve never read a book by Jo Cotterill before, but I’ll definitely be reading more from her! Looking at the Stars was beautifully written, uplifting and hopeful and influenced by recent wars and disasters. Looking at the Stars is set in an un-named country and revolves around a controlling, violent group, making it really relevant to recent events. It’s eye-opening, memorable, and a beautiful read.

The story begins with Amina, a girl living in her tense home country as foreign soldiers ride in, to hopefully help everybody out of the situation. Right away, I clicked with Amina; I really felt for her and her family as she went through devastating events, and some hopeful ones.

She’s a really relatable character, held back from letting her imagination out because she’s not allowed to go to school because she’s a girl. The things she went through completely broke my heart! However, Amina’s the brave, memorable, inspiring character I was hoping for and more. She develops so much throughout the story, and I found myself wanting to read more books about her after I closed the book.

The story is so easy to get lost in. From the first page, with that first line that hooked me in, I couldn’t tear myself away! I  It’s gritty, sad and violent, not as I’d thought it would be, but it’s also a beautiful story of how hope can turn things around. Amina’s adventure is full of ups and downs as she loses people and finds friends. The story, especially in the last half, focuses largely around storytelling, and I really, really loved that. The imagery was so vivid and beautiful, especially in Amina’s fantastical stories! Jo’s writing is gorgeous.

Overall, Looking at the Stars was a moving read, full of heartbreak and friendship. It’s unpredictable; dark at some parts but really beautifully written. It focuses on current world topics that I don’t think I’ve ever read books about before- so I really recommend it! Amina and her sisters were so loveable, as were the rest of her family and the friends that they make along their journey. I can’t recommend Looking at the Stars enough; it’s definitely one of the most emotional, but the most eye-opening books I’ve read this year.

My Rating:


I received a copy of Looking at the Stars from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

If you’re interested about Looking at the Stars and want to read more about the book, the blog tour is continuing today over at Readaraptor! Make sure to check out the blog tour post, and the finale tomorrow. If you’d like to catch up on the blog tour, here’s the schedule! Clicking on the image will bring you to my post from the blog tour.

Tour banner


8 thoughts on “Book Review: Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill

  1. maya321

    I cannot wait to read this! It sounds RIGHT up my street – I’ve added it to my wishlist so hopefully I’ll be getting my hands on a copy soon. Lovely review, Georgia!

  2. RachelHamiltonAuthor

    Great review, Georgia.
    I loved this book and would hugely recommend it.
    I’m not completely up with blog etiquette – is it okay to post links to our blog within a comment on your blog? (I’d love it if people did that on our site, but I know everyone is different so feel free to delete this.)
    If so, we had a great chat with Jo Cotterill, who is as nice as a person as she is talented as an author. You can read the interview here ( There’s also a review on the site. We completely agree with your 5 stars. Brilliant book.


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