Published: 21st May 2015
Publisher: Ebury Press
Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a war veteran who has returned from Afghanistan brutally injured, she leaves the house each night as Vincent locks himself away, unable to sleep due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients, detailing their final wishes, thoughts and feelings – from how to use a washing machine, to advice on how to be a good parent – and posts them after their death. That is until Stella writes one letter that she feels compelled to deliver in time, to give her patient one final chance of redemption…
Thank you to Ebury Press for kindly sending me a review copy.
We Are All Made Of Stars is emotional even before Chapter One has begun. Len receives a letter from his dying wife Dorothy, which is filled with happy thoughts, motivational sentences and most of all – a lot of love. We very quickly meet the main character of the book – Stella – who meets a runner who she looks forward to seeing every morning. Very early on, the letters touched me because they were so effortlessly sweet.
“…his damaged face turned to the wall as he sleeps, and the space where his leg used to be.”
It isn’t just Stella who we hear from in the narrative; Hope is a young girl who has been sick for quite some time and right now, she can’t stop over thinking her recent kiss. I took an instant liking to Hope as she was someone who didn’t really let her illness affect her and in some scenes, her determination shone through. Hugh has been living in his parents home since he was born and now that neither of them are here anymore, he can’t bring himself to leave the familiarity or his wandering cat. There weren’t a great deal of characters and I liked that especially because this was such an emotional book and so, I felt close to those whose point of views I was able to read about.
“You whispered strange words in my ear, might have been a shopping list for all I knew.”
The plot is divided up into nights and I thought that was such a fresh and original idea. There was something about being told which night it was that allowed me to dive into the plot even more. Hope and her best friend Ben were my absolute favourites; they were inseparable even through the toughest of times – now that is friendship! Ben pushes Hope to reach the best of her abilities despite being in a hospice and I really admired him for that – he wasn’t the typical boy who brags about women 24/7 (well he does but lets ignore that) and it was crystal clear that Hope was his hero and she definitely proved that she would do anything for him, even while being poorly. The letters which Stella writes for the patients to their loved ones was such a beautiful aspect of the narrative and we didn’t know all the characters, but realistically, we didn’t need to because her portrayal of their lives and thoughts came across so well in their letters. It was a very clever idea of Rowan’s and it payed off big time.
“That was all we knew about what happens next: a pair of shoes on a beach.”
With the plot leading up to the end, the worlds of Stella, Hope and Hugh change drastically all in very different ways. They were all such incredible characters and I was actually quite surprised to see an additional point of view near the finishing chapters but it worked really well and gave Stella’s story the closure she needed. Rowan writes with such power and beauty which makes it very difficult to put her new book down at all. It was an absolute pleasure to read We Are All Made Of Stars and in actual fact, it was far better than The Fault In Our Stars. Yup, I said it. You can quote me on it. There were a mixture of happy, sad, difficult and exciting parts to the book but that is what made it was realistic. People being in hospices don’t always get to come home to their loved ones and I’m really glad that Rowan highlighted the fact that there are two sides to every situation. If you’re going to read one book this year, please make sure it is this one because it’ll change your perspective on things and it’s also one of my 2015 favourites!
“And for the first time, it what feels like months, I let go of the breath I have been holding.”