“If there’s one thing I’ve learnt while I’ve been working the night shift at Marie Francis it’s that this is the one thing that sets us apart from other animals, the one thing that makes us human. Hope.”
We Are All Made of Stars* is the beautifully written and heartfelt story of several characters, all of whom are facing their own fears whilst grasping on to hope that things can get better. Though the synopsis only mentions Stella’s story, we see snippets from the point of view of Hugh, a young guy whose girlfriend recently left him leaving nothing behind but her cat, and Hope, a teenager who has long suffered with cystic fibrosis and can’t see herself leading a normal life.
Then, of course, there is Stella, a nurse at a hospice who spends her time and energy caring for others whilst avoiding facing her own problems at home after her soldier husband returned home from Afghanistan following a terrible accident, resulting in a brutal injury and post traumatic stress. She allows those she cares for at the hospice to leave their final mark on the world by putting pen to paper for them, writing their final words to their loved ones in a letter, and posting them after their death.
Whilst seemingly leading different lives, the various characters begin to cross paths and intertwine with each others stories, and when Stella writes a letter that gives her patient a chance at redemption, Stella faces a difficult decision: stick to the rules and hold on to the letter until the time of death, or go against her patient’s wishes and deliver the letter whilst there’s still time to build bridges?
This was the first Rowan Coleman book I’ve read, and I absolutely adored her writing style. Her perfectly flowing words kept me engaged with every heart-wrenching twist and inspiring turn. There were a few minor typos, but these didn’t take away from my enjoyment in the slightest (and my copy was an uncorrected proof copy, so chances are they’re all sorted now anyway!).
“You are one of those annoying shiny, special people. People who achieve things, who change things. You’re one of those people who matter. One of the ones that make life better for the rest of us. Not dust or ashes but one of the stars.“
Whilst writing a story of immense sadness, Rowan Coleman was able to keep things from becoming too depressing, and actually turned this into an uplifting tale. She managed to create some wonderful, emotionally deep characters, and I became so invested in their relationships, whether they formed before I joined the story or I witnessed them happen chapter by chapter. Sparks leapt from the pages when certain characters interacted and I found myself genuinely caring for their happiness.
Dispersed through the chapters were the letters Stella had written for her patients, and they took me on a journey through a wide range of human emotions; I cried, I giggled (if you’ve read this and I say ‘topiary’, you probably know which letter I mean!) and I was made to appreciate every loved one in my life just a little bit more. Despite never meeting most of the people who spoke the words in these letters, emotions were stirred every single time, and although the letters made me cry, I was uplifted by the love – familial, friendly and romantic – that leapt from each and every one.
“Do not miss me, because I will always be with you… I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved… Wherever you look, I will be there.“
Filled with both heartache and humour, We Are All Made of Stars* is an inspiring and moving story which reminds us of the dawn that comes after every dark time.