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The Giver of Stars (2019)
Book Reviews

The Giver of Stars (2019)

A heartwarming saga of five phenomenal women who discover their inner strength in Depression-era America.

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Our choices in life aren’t set in concrete; there’s always room for change. Constantly worrying about what other people are thinking means you’ll never be free to make the right decisions for yourself. Bestselling author of such books as Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind Jojo Moyes brings us a heartwarming story about the importance of friendship between women and true grit in The Giver of Stars. Set in Depression-era of America, five disparate women realize they are actually much stronger together than apart.

Alice Wright has just won the lottery, in husbands that is. She marries the wealthy and handsome Bennett Van Cleve after a whirlwind romance, giving her the perfect out from her oppressive family in England. But are things really as good as they appear? She journeys by boat with her new husband and father-in-law to rural Baileyville, Kentucky and the spirit of adventure is upon her. That is, until her husband keeps deflecting her romantic advances in the bedroom; his excuse is that they have to share the room with his father, so that’s understandable.

The moment Alice steps foot in her new home something doesn’t feel right. People judge her for her accent, which I suppose would be normal for small towners with little experience with foreigners. She struggles to make friends right away as the rumour mill works overtime; she discovers Bennett was originally supposed to marry Peggy Foreman, his childhood sweetheart, a fact that becomes all-too-relevant as events transpire. What’s a girl in a strange new country to do? She joins a traveling library, the Packhorse Librarians, and becomes friends with Margery, a woman with a sullied reputation the town put upon her because of her abusive father.

As Alice navigates the hidden potholes of gossip and doing her best not to embarrass her new husband, she begins to see people for who they truly are. The wealthy family she married into isn’t quite as respectable as she originally thought; people who live in rural areas aren’t the helpless hillbillies she was led to believe; and women seen as outcasts become some of the best friends she could ever ask for. Together, they fight to undo the great wrong done to Margery, currently on trial for murder.

And isn’t that what life is all about? You may not realize what’s in store for you but you’ll always end up where you’re meant to be. Alice tries every trick in the book to get Bennett to consummate their marriage, yet is always rebuffed, stating odd excuses every time. My guess is that he was gay, which is another story entirely. But if Alice hadn’t married Bennett, she wouldn’t have met her true friends in Baileyville or the real love of her life.

Our lives are made up of all the countless choices we make everyday. But there are times when it can feel like we’re being punished for some of those decisions, which isn’t accurate. Sometimes life takes us on unexpected detours, teaching us a few lessons along the way; we may not always appreciate the destination at first, but we’ll always end up in the right place. With The Giver of Stars Jojo Moyes weaves a beautiful story about being flexible when life doesn’t go the way you planned, demonstrating how these choices can take us on awesome adventures – especially once we learn to stop trying to control everything.

About the Author: Evelyn Wong