The Giver of Stars – Book Review – No Spoilers

If you are interested in watching my review, you’ll find it here:

The Giver of Stars was written by Jojo Moyes and published Oct 2019 by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. It is the November book pick for both the Marie Claire Book Club #readwithMC and Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. It was also one of Book of the Month’s November picks, which is where I purchased it and once received it has sat on my TBR.

I’ve had several friends in one of my Goodreads groups read it and they all thoroughly enjoyed it, either rating it 4 or 5 out of 5 stars. Also, it fits a tag for Great Depression which helps in a tag game that I’m participating in in that same Goodreads group, so I finally picked it up and read it.

I like to go into books blind so when I started I knew nothing about the plot. In the first couple of chapters you find that the plot is going to follow several women who are part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s packhorse library program that was instituted in the US starting in 1935 through the mid-1940’s. It is set in 1937 in Baileyville, Kentucky. Wait! This plot sounds very similar to a book that I’ve recently added to my TBR, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. It was published May 2019 by Sourcebooks Landmark. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is set in 1936 and follows the last living female of the Blue People in Kentucky.

Once I finished The Giver of Stars I read the reviews on Goodreads by my friends and several others and found out that there is actually a bit of a controversy in regards to the two books. Apparently, Kim Michele Richardson is questioning the authenticity of Jojo Moyes’ book. Thanks to Google I found an online article, Conflict in the Book World, where the author does a really great job going over the two books and the timeline. I’ve gone ahead and purchased The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and plan on reading it soon.

I gave The Giver of Stars 4 out of 5 stars because Jojo Moyes’ writing pulled me in and allowed me to block the world around me. I was immersed and could wait to find out next. It made me feel! My heart was in my throat several times. There were two parts that made me super uncomfortable. The first was quick and I just skipped the page. The second was longer and I had to read ahead to see how it was resolved so that I could calm down and enjoy the story.

My complaint, and the reason I gave it 4 stars (was tempted to give it 3 stars) instead of 5, was the Kentucky dialect. The word that I picked up on first and that annoyed me the most was “youse”. On page 287, near the beginning of Chapter 19, the Sheriff of this small town in Kentucky says, “Which one of youse takes the route up to the mountains above Red Lick?” when he is talking to a group. Really, he would have said, “Which one of y’all….” In my opinion you either portray an accurate dialect for the area that you are writing about or you don’t use a dialect at all. Youse reminds me of a north eastern dialect, not southern. And doing a little research and I find out that I’m right:

Yous(e) as a plural is found mainly in (Northern) England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, northern Nova Scotia, parts of Ontario in Canada and parts of the northeastern United States (especially areas like Boston where there was historically Irish immigration) and in Mexican-American communities in the southwest.

If you are a fan of Jojo Moyes and if her writing pulls you in like it does me, then I would recommend this book. I’m going to hold any further opinion until after I read Kim Michele Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

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