The Giver of Stars is yet another book recommended to me by my fabulous fantasy fans on Facebook. You can totally join and hang out there with us, we’re pretty cool. It goes to show how important book recommendations are to authors. Psst … if you’ve read my books and liked them, please recommend them! I would be much obliged. Cheers!
While I don’t read a lot of literary or historical fiction, I’ve enjoyed the ones that have made it on my list. Some of my all time favorite reads are on this list such as The Book Thief and The Glass Castle. I’m happy to add The Giver of Stars to this growing list, it is a lovely read.
Alice Wright is a proper British girl who doesn’t quite fit in at home and ends up marrying an exotic American man and moving west to definitely not fit in there as well. Her new home is inhospitable to say the least, mostly due to the ever disapproving presence of her new father-in-law who has plenty of opinions on what’s proper for a woman.
Her hubby’s not much better, seeing as his first reaction in any situation is to see which way his daddy leans, then agreeing. When Alice sees an opportunity that will get her out of the house and allow her to be useful in the community, she grabs it and doesn’t look back. Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library initiative has created a need for able young women to take books to the people living too far to come to a local library. These packhorse librarians not only provide books, but for some, they are the only connection for these families to the rest of the world.
Alice works closely with Margery, a woman whose family has a muddy past in the community. She’s everything that Alice wants to be, self-sufficient, smart, and most importantly, happy. The two make friends, along with the other librarians, giving Alice the sense of belonging to a community that she’s always wanted.
With every good, there comes a bad. There are those in town, including Alice’s ridiculous father-in-law, who oppose the packhorse library and believe it’s spreading indecency and immoral content to the good people of Kentucky. The weather and the terrain itself is a constant challenge. And of course, there’s the matter of Alice’s heart. She and her American husband just can’t see eye-to-eye.
The Giver of Stars is a story of friendship, grit, and determination and based on true events in America’s past.
A story with great characterization, fascinating history, and some well-deserved personal angst? I’m sold. The structure of the story itself is a bit different than what’s expected, and the way it’s handled makes the reading experience that much better. Alice’s main problem is how she can find happiness in this new world and with her spouse. Her solution to part of the problem is the packhorse library, therefore every threat to its continued functioning, is a threat to Alice. Which is why having a murder mystery appear in the third act doesn’t feel as out of place as it should have.
I loved the use of different quotes at the beginning of each chapter set the tone, and especially loved how the poem “The Giver of Stars” is used as a turning point for Alice to help her have the courage to make hard decisions and stand up for herself.
I also loved the amazing inclusive friendship of the packhorse librarians and how they watch out for each other.
While this is an objectively clean read, one of the storylines has to do with marital intimacy within a society that isn’t allowed to talk about such matters. It’s handled with tact and admirable respect, but it’s something that wouldn’t be appreciated or understood by younger readers. For that, I’d recommend a reading age of high school and up.
The other sensitive storyline is that of treatment of the coal miners and black population during the depression era. The book gives an accurate an unbiased look at what life was like, and should be appreciated for shedding light on the truth. However, for readers who are uncomfortable with gross unfairness, consider yourself warned.
I give The Giver of Stars 5/5 stars for an endearing and authentic look at an interesting period of time. And I might have cried a teeny tiny bit.
Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyestoday on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.