Book Review: “The Giver Of Stars” by Jojo Moyes

the giver of stars

This spring, several members of the library team decided to read and discuss a book together. Our first pick was The Giver Of Stars, a recently released historical fiction book by Jojo Moyes. It’s about a group of women who become “packhorse librarians” in rural 1930s America.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What The Giver Of Stars gets right: Margery, one of the main characters and the leader of the packhorse librarians, is a delight to read about. She’s strong-willed, stubborn, and perfectly at ease even in dangerous situations. She’s also hard-set against marriage, even marrying the man she loves, which makes for an interesting battle of wills.

The Giver Of Stars doesn’t shy away from social issues such as racism, sexism, and anti-intellectualism. The women have to fight these issues almost daily to do their jobs. However, the story of the women who are willing to make a difference is an inspiring one. While the book acknowledges their struggles, they never succumb to them.

What The Giver Of Stars gets wrong: The pacing is a little slow. I wasn’t always sure where the book was going, since it seemed to be meandering around a lot. There are a few moments where you’ll need to suspend your disbelief as well (most people in the 1930s were not as progressive as these ladies by a long shot), but keep in mind that this a fictional account of history told through a modern lens.

There are a few scenes where I think the old art of “show, don’t tell” would have been helpful, too. Readers don’t need a narration to explain how a man feels if he’s violently chopping wood right after a hard conversation. We get it!

Also, did people really love coffee this much in the 1930s? Was it even readily available for rural communities? There’s enough history to determine that coffee was slowly becoming a commodity in the 30s, but I’m a little iffy on how much coffee is beloved in this book. People in the 30s were in the first wave of coffee timeline (Folgers and Maxwell House were founded in the mid-1800s), so I have to wonder at the quality they were getting. First wave coffee was meant to be a helpful, fueling substance, not an all-encompassing need like second wave coffee (Starbucks, Caribou Coffee) set out to develop and capitalize on.

Who should read The Giver Of Stars: Fans of historical fiction, women’s history, nature, libraries, and books.

Who shouldn’t read The Giver Of Stars: Readers looking for something more fast-paced and action-packed. This book is more about developing its setting and characters.

 

The Giver Of Stars is located in the library’s Recreational Reading section.

Content note: A few slightly suggestive scenes, mild violence. One married couple has some trouble with intimacy, and this issue is addressed several times.

Read Through The Decade: 2010-2020

read through decade

If you want to revisit the past 10 years, reading the books that were published in that time period is a great start. The major discoveries and concerns of a decade are often reflected in its literature and nonfiction. We’ve listed a book that was published in each year from 2010-2019, leaving 2020 open for new books. Which of these recent books have you read?

All of these books are available at the library. Click the links to find where they are located, or ask for help at the Circulation Desk.

 

2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells–taken without her knowledge–became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.

 

2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

 

2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Read our review of Gone Girl here.

 

2013

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected

 

2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.  But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.

 

2015

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction- if they don’t kill each other first.

 

2016

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape.

 

2017

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Memphis, Tennessee, 1936. The five Foss children find their lives changed forever when their parents leave them alone on the family shantyboat one stormy night. Rill Foss, just twelve years old, must protect her four younger siblings as they are wrenched from their home on the Mississippi and thrown into the care of the infamous Georgia Tann, director of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. South Carolina, Present Day. Avery Stafford has lived a charmed life. But when Avery comes home to help her father weather a health crisis and a political attack, a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her deeply shaken. Avery’s decision to learn more about the woman’s life will take her on a journey through her family’s long-hidden history.

 

2018

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Explores the life of one lighthouse as it beams its message out to sea through shifting seasons, changeable weather, and the tenure of its final keeper.

 

2019

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Eleven-year-old George Washington Black – or Wash – a field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is initially terrified when he is chosen to be the manservant of his master’s brother. To his surprise, however, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. Soon Wash is initiated into a world where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, they must abandon everything and flee.

 

2020

What will you read in 2020? Be on the lookout as new books are released and added to our shelves!

 

Spotlight On Library Displays

hp display

Did you know that the library creates displays to showcase our collection? Each month, a new display theme goes up on the first-floor bookcase near the stairs. Monthly themes include:

  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter
  • Summer Reading
  • STEM
  • Historical Fiction

and more!

 

display

 

We also have books on display in the Family Room. These include children’s books and young adult books. Pictured below is our “Universe of Stories” display!

universe display

 

All of the books, audiobooks, and DVDs on display are available for checkout. Just take the item you want to the Circulation Desk and they will check it out for you.