Simon book! Simon book! If you've spent any length of time visiting my blog, you know Simon Van Booy is one of my favorite authors so I'm always extremely excited when he has a new novel or collection of short stories published. Night Came with Many Stars is scheduled to be released on June 8 and I was sent an advance reader by Godine Press thanks to my friendship with Simon. I'd already planned to buy a copy (and I still will — friend exception, you know, to the book-buying ban) but getting an ARC just meant I got to read it sooner. Wahoo for that!
Set in Kentucky, Night Came with Many Stars is a historical/contemporary combo novel. The historical part begins during the Depression, when teenaged Carol is trying to find a way to escape her abusive father and the man he lost her to in a poker game while the contemporary portion begins with a friendship between two boys named Samuel and Eddie that is first shown in the 1980s. Both storylines move forward and you're quickly made aware that you're reading about different generations of the same family. Eventually, they intertwine to tell a multigenerational story of pain and struggle, abuse, the saving graces of friendship and family, and how even those in the worst of circumstances can remake their lives. It's at times harsh (TW: rape) but a lovely, uplifting tale full of heart.
I feel like talking about any details at all would spoil the reading but there were some particular things that aren't spoilers that I loved, like the fact that one of the characters whistled all the time. That felt particularly homey to me because my father was constantly whistling while he worked, always full of good cheer. It took me back. Also, while I have never lived in Kentucky, the accent felt familiar and very real to me. I must have known people who spoke with that accent at some point, especially dropping the first "y" in "everybody": ever'body. It says in the book that Simon lived in Kentucky for 3 years. I knew he lived there for a while but I didn't realize he'd been there for quite that long. Clearly, he has a great ear for language. I would never have known the author is British from the dialogue or narrative.
Highly recommended - A 5-star read, an absolutely flawless, moving family saga of pain, resilience, deep friendship, and love. It's my humble opinion that Night Came with Many Stars is Simon's best novel. I had the weird problem of not wanting to put it down yet desiring to drag it out as long as possible at the same time. That's a new one.
You can pre-order a signed and, if you'd like, personalized copy directly from the publisher at this email:
My thanks to Simon and Godine Press for the review copy of Night Came with Many Stars!
Isn't the cover gorgeous? The felted mice were posed with Simon's book for good reason. I just got these two little guys recently and I placed them with the book partly because of the enduring friendship between characters Samuel and Eddie (the bench has a plaque that says "Old Friends") and partly because Simon has a pet mouse, which you can occasionally glimpse if you follow his Instagram account @simonvanbooy . Aren't they adorable? I'm thinking I may just have to name my mice Samuel and Eddie.
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