18 May 2012

Review: Stardust by Carla Stewart

When O’Dell Peyton’s body washes up in the East Texas bayou, his wife Georgia knows that her cheating husband really has gone for good. Left to raise two daughters with no source of income, Georgia is trying to find an alternative to moving in with Aunt Cora when she unexpectedly inherits the Stardust tourist cabins. Georgia eagerly takes on the project of restoring the Stardust to its former glory, propelled by her childhood memories. Room 5 of the Stardust was the last place Georgia saw her parents before they abandoned her, leaving her to be raised by Aunt Cora.

As the story progresses, we meet more characters from Mayhew (where Georgia lives) and Zion (the colored settlement on the other side of the bayou), and we see that “people, we’re all connected even when it doesn’t seem like we are”, just like the local legend of the cypress knees that connect the trees up and down the bayou. (And that is kneees, not trees. )

Some authors feel the need to practically hit the reader over the head with their research. Stardust is obviously well researched and feels historically accurate, but I never felt that I was being preached at or lectured to. By halfway through I was thanking God for the medical advances over the last half century that mean I never have to worry about my children getting polio. The novel is also a fascinating insight into the lives and attitudes of Southerners towards 'colored' people in 1950's Texas.

Stardust is written in the first person from Georgia’s point of view, with a voice that is immediately engaging. This is lovely story, well-plotted and beautifully written story of secrets and forgiveness, set in the backdrop of the 1952 polio epidemic and the March of Dimes, a national charity dedicated to supporting polio victims and eradicating the dreaded disease. Reading Stardust was an unexpected pleasure. Recommended.

Thanks to Faithwords and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. Click to read an ACFW interview with the author, Carla Stewart.

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