Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, HighBridge Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I had few expectations of Night Came with Many Stars when I received the ARC on NetGalley. It’s not a book that had been on my radar at all; I hadn’t heard it mentioned on any of the sites and podcasts I follow for book news. I was immediately and completely captivated by the prose. But that’s not to say that said prose outshone the story itself, which was equally engaging. I knew very little about this book going in, and was pleased to discover that it was actually a multi-generational family saga. However, it’s a family saga presented in a way that felt fresh and unique. I ended up loving everything about it, and am so thankful for whatever serendipity brought it to my attention.
The writing style, especially in the first few chapters, is breathtakingly pretty, and very unique. I was reminded of Where the Crawdads Sing, but only slightly. The further the story progressed, the more clearly original it revealed itself to be. The author employs some truly unique metaphors and similes that had me going back and rereading (and re-listening) to lines, just to get my head completely wrapped around the comparisons. Every single one of them worked, even though I would never have come up with them myself.
I love the juxtaposition in perspectives and time periods. Life was so radically different for a thirteen year-old girl in the 1930s than it was for a boy of the same age in the 80s. This is a fact that anyone would know if they took a moment to think about that scenario, but the back-to-back jumping between the two drove that truth home on a far deeper level.
I also loved how the author kept pace as he swapped between these two perspectives. We see Carol and Samuel alternatively at similar ages and stages of life, which just further drives home how different their lives were based on gender and time period. And yet there were some beautiful parallels, as well. I very much enjoyed watching both of them grow.
What makes a family? Does shared blood mean more or less than love developed over the course of years? Watching Carol slowly build herself a family without noticing, and watching Samuel grow to appreciate his own family more and more, was absolutely lovely. The side characters in this story were just a beautifully full of life as the main characters, with a couple of notable exceptions. I found anyone with a villainous role in the novel to be a bit two-dimensional, but even that decision served the story well. While I loved all of the supporting cast, I developed a serious soft spot for Eddie and Joe, in particular.
Night Came with Many Stars is a hopeful, beautifully written story with a lot of depth and even more heart. I didn’t expect to be adding it to my list of favorite books of the year, but that’s exactly where it landed. Also, I can’t recommend the audio version highly enough. I’ll definitely be buying myself a physical copy in the near future. This is a book that deserves a place on my favorites shelf.
You can purchase this book from: Blackwell’s | Bookshop.org (Support Independent Bookstores) | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible | Libro.fm (Another way to support independent bookstores!) | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide!)
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