*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: Richard Wagamese
Publisher: McLelland & Stewart
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Frank Starlight has long settled into a quiet life working his remote farm, but his contemplative existence comes to an abrupt end with the arrival of Emmy, who has committed a desperate act so she and her child can escape a harrowing life of violence. Starlight takes in Emmy and her daughter to help them get back on their feet, and this accidental family eventually grows into a real one. But Emmy’s abusive ex isn’t content to just let her go. He wants revenge and is determined to hunt her down. Starlightwas unfinished at the time of Richard Wagamese’s death, yet every page radiates with his masterful storytelling, intense humanism, and insights that are as hard-earned as they are beautiful. With astonishing scenes set in the rugged backcountry of the B.C. Interior, and characters whose scars cut deep even as their journey toward healing and forgiveness lifts us, Starlight is a last gift to readers from a writer who believed in the power of stories to save us.
Starlight is one of the most vivid and breathtaking books that I’ve read this year. Sadly, Wagamese passed away before the completion of this novel, but the incompletion of this story makes it all the more beautiful and leaves it at it’s most intense and pivotal moment. The story ends at a tipping point, where two stories are at the cusp of colliding, leaving the reader with an intense cliffhanger. The publisher does fill in what Wagamese intended for the climax and resolution, however, I think this story is perfect just as it is. It’s open ended and leaves the reader to fill in their own ending, and there are so many different ways this could go.
This is a story of contrast and juxtaposition: good vs. evil, love vs. hate, light vs. dark. There are three perspectives presented. Frank Starlight is a force of beauty and calm. He is a simple man who is not one for words, but he feels the land and connects with the world around him in an otherworldly and healing way. Emmy is in a state of transition. She is fleeing violence and finds peace in Frank’s world. Her story is one of recovery and utter change from devastation to beauty. She finds her way in Franks world and begins to discover so much about herself that she’d never thought possible. In complete contrast is Emmy’s ex. He is a figure of all-consuming hatred. He is obsessive, abusive, and fixated on destruction. These dichotomies create this intense movement between two completely opposing figures. It’s shocking and when these two men are placed side by side, you notice the virtues and faults of each in a much more visceral way. It makes the beautiful moment all the more moving and the darker moments that much more devastating.
I don’t want to give too much away about this book. I enjoyed it so much and I hope you will too. Wagamese is one of the most descriptive writers that I’ve ever read. He uses unusual comparisons to paint a tangible picture of the world he’s created. His book almost like a photography in that I could imagine the setting and the characters so vividly and I understood them in such a real way that it was like looking at an image or watching a movie, rather than reading a book. Wagamese’s talent will be missed. I now look to his other books because I need more of his writing in my life.
If you read Starlight, let me know what you think!