Book Review: Light From Other Stars by Erika Swyler. Bloomsbury Publishing.

 

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Light From Other Stars by Erika Swyler

 

 

Hi my lovely peeps. I have another book review for you, I’ve just closed the final page on this Stella read, and I’m now struggling to focus on anything else. I feel a huge book hangover coming on, one that I really wasn’t expecting! Here is the official synopsis:

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From the author of national bestseller The Book of Speculation, a poignant, fantastical novel about the electric combination of ambition and wonder that keeps us reaching toward the heavens.

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach–if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda’s newborn brother several years before, Theo turns to the dangerous dream of extending his living daughter’s childhood just a little longer. The result is an invention that alters the fabric of time.

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Amidst the chaos that erupts, Nedda must confront her father and his secrets, the ramifications of which will irrevocably change her life, her community, and the entire world. But she finds an unexpected ally in Betheen, the mother she’s never quite understood, who surprises Nedda by seeing her more clearly than anyone else. Decades later, Nedda has achieved her long-held dream, and as she floats in antigravity, far from earth, she and her crewmates face a serious crisis. Nedda may hold the key to the solution, if she can come to terms with her past and the future that awaits her.

Light from Other Stars is about fathers and daughters, women and the forces that hold them back, and the cost of meaningful work. It questions how our lives have changed, what progress looks like, and what it really means to sacrifice for the greater good.

 

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I was luckily enough to be sent an advance reader copy of this book from the lovely folks at Bloomsbury publishing, so while I had the house to myself yesterday, I picked it up and began to read…and finally closed the last page this afternoon. I couldn’t put it down.

 

 

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always give you an honest review, so I need to admit right up front, that the opening pages didn’t grab me as I’d hoped they would. My problem is this: we are immediately thrown into a space mission that Nedda is on. We see that there are complications happening, and tension mounting, but as this is our first introduction to  Nedda, we do not have an affinity with her yet, as she is an unknown quantity. So whatever is happening, the reader is initially one step removed. Similarly, the synopsis shows that being an astronaut is her life long dream, and within the first page, we see that she has achieved it. my first impressions suggested that there was not much more that I was going to learn.

 

However, I was wrong and I’m not too proud to admit it!

I did choose to read on, and I’m so pleased that I did, as what I discovered was a beautifully rich story which is both a multi-layered and potent tale of love in all it’s varied forms. Swyler’s writing is both lyrical and enchanting, as the story volley’s back and forth between Nedda’s childhood and her space mission, colliding eventually in a magnificent ending that took my breath away!

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The genius of this book for me, is not the plot, but the characters growth and change -in most unexpected ways. The lesson is in their evolution, arising out of secrets from their pasts, and the revelations that later haunt them.

 

I love reading about flawed characters who act on good intentions. For example, Nedda’s father used to be a scientist for NASA until he was laid off. Now, when he is not teaching, he is locked in their basement, running experiments that he hopes will lead to an invention that will give his daughter more time with him. But of course, the paradox is that he is actually stealing from their time together, while he searches.

 

Her mother, Betheen, comes across as somewhat of a cold character, who also has little time for Nedda, as she throws herself into her baking obsession. However, during the course of the book, we learn the many reasons for this, and we begin to see much more depth in her character as time moves on.

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And talking about time…

 

The book raises some questions: While we all wish that we had more time to spend together, would you really wish to make time stand still?

And is it better to look forward or back?

 

I’m giving this read four stars. It may have taken me a couple of chapters to warm up to it, but after that I was riveted. The story was anything but predictable. It flowed beautifully, had real emotional depth and a solid plot line;  the lyrical writing was a joy to read.

 

I’ve so happy to have been sent this lovely book. I know there are so many hidden gems of books that I would never have discovered if I had stuck to reading only what I thought I would like ( Stephen King’s Dark Tower series being the latest case in point). This is where #bookstagram, #booktube and #bookblogs come into their own, right? Thanks to everyone sharing their reads, we can all find the key to worlds that we may never have found otherwise. I hope my review will entice you into this one too.

 

Light From Other Stars was published on May 7th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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