- A Pocketful of Stardust, by J.P. Barnaby & Rowan Speedwell
A Pocketful of Stardust, by J.P. Barnaby & Rowan Speedwell
Kyle came to Aster, Georgia, looking for redemption. On the run and out of hope, he’s just trying to get on with his life. Then he meets Noah, a ghost, and a big sloppy lab named Jake who redefine his idea of living. But his past is closing in, and when it finds him, they could lose everything.
The story is primarily a contemporary romance, about Noah. His life is ticking along, until he gets that phone call – his father has died, suddenly. He goes home, to all those conflicting emotions of 'why didn't I come home more often' and 'I should have known' and 'how do I go on without him?'. As he tries to navigate this exhausting wheel of emotion and stress and responsibility, a kaleidoscope of events derail his already shattered world; he loses his job, he meets Kyle, and he inherits a house and a bookstore.
It utterly broke my heart. But, I'll admit, the worst part was when Jake came home. I've owned dogs all my life and I've lost more than a few of them; seeing Jake walk into that house and search for Noah's dad was the most heartbreaking part of the novel, and it's making me cry right now, just remembering it. In that moment, I knew I was going to love this book. It wasn't the glasses on the floor, though they smashed my heart with a hammer; it was Jake.
Alright, yes...I cried a lot, actually. The glasses, Jake coming home, even Kyle made me cry sometimes because he was just so sweet and clueless and alone, Miss Edna and Thad, and then...Henry, and that last bit at the end at the church... Yeah, I cried a lot.
I loved the respect that was given to each of the very serious issues raised throughout the book, without it becoming lecturing – the Syrian refugee, cultism, domestic abuse, child abuse, civil rights, religious persecution, equality, race, and sexuality. They were all handled with care, but without minimising or overshadowing them, without stooping to using them as a tool to add more diversity without understanding them.
When it comes to characters, you can't ask for a better bunch. Miss Edna, with her rifle friends and sweetness; innocent and sweetly clueless Kyle; outrageous and loveable Thad; brusk and intriguing Cooper; and the smart and sophisticated Henry. I loved each and every one of them.
Honestly, this is my first book by JP Barnaby, and I chose it because of Rowan Speedwell. I've learned that I can never be disappointed by a book by Rowan Speedwell, and – if this book is any indication of talent – then I've just added JP Barnaby to my list of “must read” authors, because...wow. The writing style was exactly up my alley. The blend of genres was utterly perfect and engaging. The characters were wonderful, heartfelt and real, with a huge diversity of personalities, sexuality, gender, strength, race, and quirks. The plot had a perfect pace, for me. It was always moving along with some even or other and it was always building the story with every event. Nothing was pointless or unexplained.
In the end, what can I say? I loved it. I laughed, cried, broke my heart, and it made me heartsick for people lost and pets no longer with me. Every character had their place, their purpose, and has forged a place in my heart. I can't wait for the next book in Aster.