Stars in the Grass by Ann Marie Stewart | Contemporary Fiction Review

Stars in the Grass by Ann Marie Stewart

Book review disclosure.

Contemporary Fiction

"The summer before I turned ten was idyllic--until August 3, 1970. It perfectly describes a time when I thought the world was safe and good things lasted forever. What I couldn't know then, but try to remember now, is how fragile and delicate are the moments we most treasure, and if they break into pieces, repairing means seeing anew."

Nine-year-old Abby McAndrews has just experienced her greatest loss, and in its wake, her family is unraveling with guilt, grief, and anger. Her father, Reverend McAndrews, cannot return to the pulpit because he has more questions than answers. Her older brother Matt's actions speak louder than the words he needs to confess, as he acts out in dangerous ways. Her mother tries to hold her grieving family together, but when Abby's dad refuses to move on, the family is at a crossroads.

Stars in the Grass, set in a small Midwestern town in 1970, is an uplifting novel that explores a family's relationships and resiliency. Abby's heartbreaking remembrances are balanced by humor and nostalgia as her family struggles with--and ultimately celebrates--life after loss.

My Thoughts

In a word I would say that Stars in the Grass is riveting. If you were to only read the prologue and the epilogue you would think that the book contains a lovely story about an ordinary family. You would think that life was an easy thing for them, full of funny scenarios and beautiful moments that made for an unbreakable family bond.

What is contained on the pages between those two portions is more realistic. Life is unpredictable. One moment you think things couldn't be more perfect and then out of nowhere things suddenly change. That's how a lazy vacation day happened for the McAndrews family. One moment they were leasurely walking along the roadside after spending a day at the beach and then suddenly their lives were changed completely and forever.

The story is told through the voice and perspective of Abby. She's a darling nine-year-old girl that suddenly finds herself carrying the weight of her family on her shoulders. In the midst of all the grief she gets lost and the story of how she makes it through is heartbreaking at times. I found myself wanting to reach into the story and hold her tight. 

While this is a story of tragedy and contains very depressing moments there is also a consistent glimmer of hope throughout. I found it interesting to look in at this family from the outside. As the reader I was able to see how the family was surrounded and loved even when they didn't have the capacity to accept and flourish in that love. In a note from the author she expresses that she hopes that the reader will see their story in Abby's. I certainly did and I think you will too.

This is Ann Stewart's debut novel and I am looking forward to reading her next. Her writing style evokes strong emotions and as the reader you can't help but be drawn into the lives of the characters. I'm looking forward to sharing this book with my reading group. If you have a book club there are discussion questions in the back that would make for some deep and thought provoking discussion.

Connect With The Author

Ann Marie Stewart

Disclosure of materials.

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