Title: The Giver of Stars
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction
Page Count: 400
Published by: Pamela Dorman Books
Date Published: October 8, 2019
You can find it here: Bookshop.org
When Alice Wright married the dashing, all-American and wealthy Bennett Van Cleve, she thought she was escaping her oppressive life in England of tea parties, “proper behaviour”, lack of opinion, and her cold mother. But arriving in the rural town of Baileyville, Kentucky, where her new father-in-law is the local mine owner employing most of the residents, is anything but free.
Mr. Van Cleve is cruel, he is powerful, and he expects Alice to remain shut up tight at home making baby Van Cleves. Bennett, who at first seemed romantic and dashing, cowers to his father’s every will and desire. She bravely left one stifling life, only to fall right into another one.
Until the Packhorse Library is formed under the tough-talking, inspiring leader – Margery O’Hare. Eleanor Roosevelt has set up a program to employ women with books and the task of delivering these books to rural, poorer residents … a woman-run travelling library.
Drawn against the stunning imagery of rural Kentucky, Alice begins to find her spirit, her fight, and her fire as she befriends the brave members of this library, battles the hardship of the elements, and begins to let these tender people into her heart. Changing her life, and the life of those she reaches, one powerful book at a time.
Let’s Talk Female Friendship:
I can’t count the number of times I have shared my dislike over girl-girl hate. I’m sick of it, I can’t stand it, and it plagues Young Adult and Middle Grade still. Are we born hating other women? Are we taught to see them as enemy? I have theories, but not for this space.
But this book? These women? More of this please! I adored this powerful core of female friendship. I adored that each of these women had their own unique strength, their own unique grit & determination. Their own unique weaknesses and fears. I adored that these women fought with one another, bickered with one another, supported one another, and ultimately lifted each other.
Each being a better version of themselves, I can never read enough stories that get female friendship right and Jojo Moyes nailed it here. It isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always agreeable, but it can be unfailingly strong … when we stop seeing each other as competition.
Let’s Talk Characters:
I’m in love with Margery O’Hare. That’s it. Full stop.
She is an excellently drawn character full of inner strength, conviction of self, doesn’t give a hoot what others think of her, and is always willing to stand up for the weak & powerless. But it is that buried softness inside her that makes her stronger. I love that Jojo Moyes balanced all these women with strength and softness. The literary notion of “strong” women … rough & tough … basically men, is exhausting. Each woman has softness here that buoys her strength, never diminishes. Such an excellent cast.
Let’s Talk The People of Kentucky:
Jojo Moyes will magically take you to rural Kentucky in the late 1930s. Her passion, her appreciation, and her compassion for this slice of America and its people is very apparent. She beautifully describes the landscape – its majesty and brutality – while also compassionately creating her characters. She never demeans, never calls down, never looks down on the very poor and uneducated residents. A very fine line between “patronizing, white woman saviour” and honest retelling. I could always feel her respect through her writing. Highlighting the power of reading, the power of story, and its magically connective ability to change us, better us, and raise us up.
I would have loved this book had I read it myself, but I adored this as an audiobook. The narrator brought all these women to life in such a real, visceral way that it felt like I was simply listening to a group of women reminisce. This book has every element for me; female friendships, female grit & determination, interesting & dynamic side characters, emotional heart, powerful scenes of reality and ultimately, the heart song of this story, is the connecting power of books. No matter age, class, or skin tone … books have the power to heal, the power to connect, inspire, encourage and change the world. This book is for everyone who believes in the power of friendship and stories.
TBR Ranking: High