The Stories Stars Tell Shines
I’m a big fan of author C.L. Walters since I read her first book, Letters She Left Behind. But I’m an even bigger fan of John Hughes films. So when I saw she’d incorporated elements of Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off into her newest novel, I nearly weeped for joy.
Walter’s “The Stories Stars Tell” is a triumph. Within the crisply written pages of her poignant young adult novel I found myself moving from laughter to tears and from painful nostalgic memories to heartwarming faith in the future.
The chapter where Tanner is blind-sighted by Emma’s pursuit of a kiss, and begins a transformation he never expects, absolutely warmed my heart. And Emma’s innocent perseverance of her relatable, if not questionable, goal of pursuing Tanner made me laugh. But Tanner did not have the confidence to handle her transformative powers in the beginning.
“I was who I was, and I would only drag her down. I turned, cut through the flowerbed, and walked away wishing things were different.” I started the chapter giggling and finished it weeping for Tanner.
Much of the book proceeds this way, with Walters employing lovely phrases like “a glittery explosion of awareness in my chest” to illuminate the characters’ inner thoughts and struggles.
This author is not afraid to tackle some tough issues. Tanner’s long time friend, Griff (which sounds a lot like “Steph” from Pretty In Pink for a reason, I suspect), is a loathsome character. His introduction brought some foul language to the story that gave me a jolt. Although it was arguably necessary to show how teen boys talk to each other and how toxic Griff is to Tanner’s attempts to change, I would have preferred a trigger alert of some kind.
My favourite line: “It was written in the stars for a moment in time, even though sometimes I imagine the stars aligning again.” Who hasn’t felt this way about a past love, someone who slipped through their fingers, or a treasured friendship that drifted apart?
Walter drops a fairly hefty bomb in her acknowledgments, revealing a personal truth in her quest to speak directly to and comfort young people who’ve experienced unwanted sexual encounters and who’ve grappled with religious patriarchal incongruities. The revelation had me revisiting parts of the book yet again, and tearfully acknowledging some bitter truths. Walters had me laughing at the start of her book and weeping by the end. What a ride!