Book number 11 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman.
‘Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to an ex-soldier, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the scars and the secrets he carries.
During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones – some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.
Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time…’ (Thanks Amazon!)
Death and trauma. These are the underlying themes of this novel, and it details how different people cope with different life events. Stella Carey is a nurse who works in a Hospice. She is surrounded by loss and death as many of her patients are there for their final moments in life, and as a way of making their passage on a little easier, she writes letters for their loved ones to be read when they are gone. These letters are scattered amongst the chapters, and some make truly heartbreaking reading – even the hardest of heart (i.e. me!) will find it difficult to not shed a tear or two. The story however follows Stella and her broken relationship with her husband Vincent, an ex-soldier who has returned home from war but is struggling to find himself again after what he’s seen and experienced. In addition, we follow Hope, a teenage girl who lives with Cystic Fibrosis, something she knows could kill her at any moment and how she copes with her own mortality at such a young age. We also follow Hugh, a young men who’s mother died when he was young, and he is now alone following the death of his father. He’s an awkward man, slightly anti-social with a cat called Jake who he never really wanted but has anyway. He doesn’t like people and is more than happy with his own company. I could completely relate to him on this point;
‘most of what people say makes me want to dig a bunker in the middle of a remote forest, hoard tinned food and wait for the apocalypse’
The links between these characters are subtle, and it was a pleasure to read about 3 characters who are so wildly different but are all dealing with some life changing events. Rowan Coleman has provided us with a beautiful novel which explores some topics, particularly death, which are often taboo subjects. She explores them in a heartfelt and sensitive way. Whilst reading about death can be difficult, so can reading about life. How we deal with death should not define us, but it does give us an idea of the kind of person we are, or want to be. Coleman deals with this concept beautifully. I really cannot recommend this book enough – it has been nice to read a novel that really makes you think about what you want from life, and what you would do in the situations these characters find themselves in. Any book that can really make you think is a winner in my eyes.
Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖