We Are All Made of Stars
by Rowan Coleman
Publisher: Ebury Press
Publishing Date: 28th January 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 432
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
What if you had just one chance, one letter you could leave behind for the person you love?
What would you write?
Stella Carey has good reason to only work nights at the hospice where she is a nurse. Married to a war veteran who has returned from Afghanistan brutally injured, Stella leaves the house each night as her husband Vincent, locks himself away, unable to sleep due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
During her nights at the hospice, Stella writes letters for her patients containing their final wishes, thoughts and feelings – from how to use a washing machine, to advice on how to be a good parent – and usually she delivers each letter to the recipient he or she has died.
That is until Stella writes one letter that she feels compelled to deliver in time to give her patient one final chance of redemption…
So. „We Are All Made of Stars”. You’ve no idea how much I waited to eventually read this book. I didn’t manage this when it came out as hardcover, so when the publication day of the paperback copy arrived, I knew that it is finally THE time, and as soon as my beautiful, beautiful copy landed on my doorstep, I started reading it, with incredibly high expectations – I mean, all the prizes for this book, and I adore Rowan Coleman’s novels, so I thought, what can go wrong?
It turned out that, unfortunately, some things can go wrong. I was mostly confused when reading this story, and I had a feeling it’s incredibly dragging on. Confused, because I really didn’t know why some of the chapters are told from different characters’ points of view, who are those people and what is their role in the story. After reading synopsis I was expecting this novel to be about Stella and her husband, and while yes, it was partly about those two, mostly it was about other people more or less connected with the hospice. However, as I didn’t see any direct connection between them and Stella, and for example in Hugh’s case I couldn’t figure out for a long time why is he a characters in this book at all, what is his part in this story, how significant he or the other people are, it just didn’t keep my attention. Usually I don’t have a problem when the book is casting a bigger group of characters, as it was in this story, but I couldn’t warm to them at all. Of course I sympathised with them, I felt their pain, but I had a feeling that I know little too little about them to really know them. I think that my favourite character was Thea, Issy’s mum, and it’s telling something, as she is a very backstage heroine. Please, don’t get me wrong, they are really well written but I couldn’t find any depth in them. Also, my problem was that for me the story didn’t concentrate on a single storyline – there are many subplots, but not one of them was really greatly and deeply explored – maybe this is why I couldn’t connect with them?
This book tells the story of few main characters over the course of seven nights – together with their most hidden fears, feelings and difficult moments. And it was beautifully described. It has touched at all the right heart – strings, especially the letters that Stella was writing for her patients – letters that were meant to reach their recipients after the person’s death. There were two that made me cry hard, really, really hard. Those letter were for the families, friends, neighbours and even strangers and there was a whole variety of them, from funny to really heart – breaking, and I think that they were the best part of this book. Just the best.
I’ve missed a story in this book, you know? Something that would keep my attention, something that would wow me as much as for example Ms Coleman’s last book, but this moment has never arrived. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I’ve been there, I’ve seen this all before, that there is nothing new. This book was absolutely okay, full of emotions, understanding and empathy and yet I was missing this „something” that makes the reading exceptional for you. However, it never took me by surprise, I personally didn’t find there neither a twist nor turn, and it lacked in freshness for me. So while it was really a lovely, poignant book, I personally have read better stories, and from Ms Coleman as well. But one is for sure – Rowan Coleman can write with a great sensitivity and she’s not afraid to touch upon really difficult issues.