STARS shine bright


Heather Lillystone, Jenna Cham, and Julia Kirby (from the left) are immersed in reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: the first book the club is reading before the STARS next meeting commences on Oct. 31 (Photo Credit: Ihechi Ezuruonye).

Reading is an activity that brings together even the most unlikely of friends. A good book can begin a conversation, but a great book can lead to the beginning of an everlasting friendship. This year Mercy decided to introduce Sisters That Are Reading Stories (STARS), a book club for Mercy students who love to read and wish to share their passion for books with their fellow classmates.

The idea to form STARS began last year with three sophomores who had a passion for books and loved to discuss their favorite novels with one another: Jenna Chami, Heather Lilystone, and Julia Kirby. The three girls, along with a few other friends, started a reading group that consisted of suggesting their favorite books to one another, reading them, and then discussing their thoughts and views on the book and its author.  The girls met several times a month during the school year in Ms. Claudia Taniguchi’s room.

“We read The Giver by Lois Lowry, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and The Clearing by Heather Davis,” said junior Julia Kirby. “We met at my house to wrap up The Clearing.”

Unknowingly, they were not the only ones with the idea to form a book club. Seniors Molly Schwalm and Jacqueline Welday formed their own book club with their friends. When the groups found out that there were two book clubs they decided to combine. When word spread around the school that there was an unofficial book club at Mercy, the five girls took matters into their own hands and decided to make their club official, and the turnout was beyond their expectations.

“We were extremely surprised and thrilled at the turnout for the first meeting,” said junior Jenna Chami. “We were so worried that there would only be a few people to show up, but every seat was filled.  After the sign-up form went out, it exploded within a few hours. It was clear there was a huge interest in the club.”

Junior Heather Lillystone agreed.

“I honestly was not expecting a lot of people to be interested,” said Lillystone. “I think it’s a stereotype [that] weird, nerdy people to like to read books, so I was not expecting us to have nearly 70 members. When I found out, I almost fell out of my chair. It was amazing.”

In STARS, members read a variety of books from different genres ranging from classical literature, fantasy, historical fiction, to contemporary fiction. The club is also open to suggestions; any member is welcome to suggest a favorite book she thinks the club will enjoy.

“I think it’s important to read different kinds [of books] so we can reach all [the] interest of our members,” said Kirby.  “If we read the same kind of book it would be boring, and we want to keep it interesting.”

The girls are proud of how the club is growing. They are excited to share and to continue reading with their members.

“There are currently 70 people who have signed up to join STARS,”  said Chami, “and whether or not all of them continue to participate, it felt amazing to see so much support for the club.We are so proud of it and [are] so excited to share [it] with everyone.”

Books allow the reader to become someone else and sometimes travel to another time. When asked why the girls enjoy reading so much, they could not help but smile.

“I love reading because it provides an escape from reality and allows me to drift off into a different world or state of being,” said Chami.  “It’s great for relieving stress during the school year, and that is always appreciated.”

The name Sisters That Are Reading Stories is one that inspires unity and love brought about by the love the friends share for literature.

“The name STARS originated from The Fault in Our Stars,”  said Kirby, “which was the book that inspired us to start the club. We wanted a name that was creative and that reflected the history [of] our club.”

Students that are interested in learning more about the club can visit the club’s blog at: