Champlain Library Book Review; Where the Forest Meets the Stars, by Glendy Vanderah

This is the story of a young graduate woman, Joanna Tale, who after the death of her mother and her own battle with cancer, isolates herself and returns to her Ph.D. studies in order to become a university professor.

Coming back from her bird nesting research one evening, a girl appears on her rented property. The barefoot nine-year-old girl wears pajamas, claims to have come from the stars and calls herself Ursa Major. Ursa explains that she can only return home after witnessing five miracles. Joanna tries to persuade the girl to return to her family as they must be worried about her. When Joanna offers her food and then a change of clothing, she notices the girl’s body is full of bruises. Ursa sticks to her story and explains that she’s inhabited the body of a deceased girl. She claims she does not know her name or her family. Joanna’s attempts to make her go back to her home fail.

Since there are no reports of any missing girls, Ursa would be sent to live with a foster family. Joanna allows Ursa to stay with her until she finds out more about her situation. She asks for help from her closest neighbor, Gabe Nash, who has a roadside stand she occasionally buys eggs from.

Joanna and Gabe resolve to find out about Ursa’s past and regularly check for missing girls reports with no success. As days go by, the trio’s relationship grows stronger. They appreciate the small-town lifestyle as well as Ursa’s everyday miracles, as simple as they might appear. Joanna and Gabe’s relationship flourishes, as together they confront and overcome their own sets of hardships and traumas. As the summer comes to a close, Joanna moves back to the city and continues her studies, and the mystery surrounding Ursa, where she comes from and where she’s going, is resolved.

While the beginning of this story presents as supernatural in nature, as the story progresses, it develops that this story isn’t a far stretch from our own reality. The novel conveys with simplicity, a dose of courage, compassion, and love. The main characters experience personal challenges of loss and trauma; however, they also experience happiness and contentment in their everyday life. A heartwarming story for you to enjoy!

Alba Segovia, Circulation Clerk

Champlain Library