Fifteen-year-old Danny has just one dream: to be an artist. Living in Toxteth, with his mother and five sisters, Danny meets clever, politically aware Nicole and falls in love. But when Thatcher's government withdraws the Liverpool Art School's funding, Danny slides into apathy, robbing and drug dependency. Nicole and Danny's love affair, played out to a soundtrack of Bowie and Joy Division, is grand, romantic and doomed.
Then Danny finds himself sucked into the longest, most exhilarating and frightening day of his life. Set on fire by rioters, Toxteth is ablaze. Danny, transfixed, starts to paint versions of the same picture, over and over again... Can Nicole bring him back from the edge?
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Buzzing with post-punk energy and righteous indignation. The result is a novel that has you feeling sad and angry about Thatcher's Britain all over again, and with the simplistic intensity of adolescence - Independent on Sunday
It's when Sampson is detailing the violence of the Toxteth riots that his descriptive powers are really exercised ... Stars are Stars has a solid emotional core - it's about the limits of idealism, and the transformative potential of young love - Time Out
More than a love story, this is a love letter to the post-punk scene in Liverpool... Sampson convincingly captures that mindset, peculiar to youth and perhaps to that time, when politics, music and desire could mix and combust to such powerful effect - Independent