Constellations of Scars by: Melissa Esuke Ousley

When I read the blurb for this book I was immediately drawn in. A girl who produces pearls? Where it’s written like a chronic illness? As a disabled reader I was pumped!

My absolute favorite thing about this book was the way Amelia’s peal illness was written. It was like reading a description of someone who lived with a chronic illness. She was not inspiration porn simply for doing what she needed to do when she was in pain. It was just part of her life. It was ugly a bloody and she suffered and the suffering was never hyped to the point where it was made a spectacle.

When it came to pain and the way it was described, how Amelia handled it? I related with her hard and fast.

When it came to a few other elements of the book, I wish they’d been handled with the same skill.

Another shining moment? The way Amelia’s relationship with her mother is described. It was so easy to sympathize and in my case empathize with a controlling parent who was willing to lock their child away and scare them with horror stories of the outside world to keep them close and dependent.

Her mother allowed her no freedom, and none of the monetary benefit from her pearls. That was written fantastically. I loved it.

For a while, I couldn’t even really figure out what the conflict would be. At first,
I liked the not knowing but when it got to the 55%-60% mark of the book and I still couldn’t tell, it felt like the pacing was off.

Amelia finds a group of people who are different like her.

It comes in the form of an oddities show. A museum where there’s a bearded lady and her girlfriend who plays the piano (the fact they’re gay is NOT part of the draw–it’s her beard and angelic singing voice), a young man with a skin disorder that causes scale-like skin to grow over his body. They have an iridescent sheen he’s sort of a fish man, and a few others.

The museum is run by a father and son duo and in the son we are introduced to the love interest.

He felt too perfect. There were moments where he was controlling or dismissive but to me they felt like they came about quickly. When the book hit 60% the pacing sped up and it wasn’t really tot he benefit of the story. Things started moving very quickly and it wasn’t done as well as some of the other components.

Then we get to the twist at the last 80% of the story. While I definitely didn’t see it coming, it sort of wasn’t handled the best for me. It felt really out of left field and the ending felt really rushed because of it. I couldn’t really enjoy it. Were there breadcrumbs laid during the story for the ending to make sense?

Yes, but not very many. Maybe if the book had been a little longer, then the author could have really worked with the ending and the pacing would have been better.

When it comes to diversity, all I know is the main character is a brunette and one of the others is from a small town named The Wolves in Spanish. I don’t know if he spoke it, or was Hispanic or Latin.

The races and ethnicities of the other characters were up in the air because we get absolute barebones descriptions. That was something that bothered me. The author came up with this wonderful idea, bearded ladies and a fish man but couldn’t provide descriptions of the characters? Aside from hair color?

I just pictured everyone as Black to fill in the blanks that the author left.

The poor pacing and lack of descriptions was a big let down and kept this book from being truly great but it still gets a 3 star rating from me.

I received this ARC in return for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley and the publisher.


Author. Reader. Reviewer. Interested in Sci-fi, Fantasy, and everything in between. Ya, and Adult. Looking for representaion where it matters! BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, everything! We all deserve stories!

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