I'm sorry to say this is going to be one of those reviews where I'm hard pressed to give too much detail, because the devil is in those details.
This book, Where the Forest Meets the Stars, is... beautiful. It is author Glendy Vanderah's debut novel and it's incredibly well-written.
An excerpt from the debut novel's description sums up just the right amount of information that won't give anything away.
"After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.
The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past."
I was a bit hesitant because I worried it would be a religious novel, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Joanna - known as "Jo" throughout most of the book, is much more complicated than the description implies. She is smart and kind, and as a reader her thoughts about Ursa were the same I would have. Confusion, love, concern, and wonder.
The relationship between Jo and her best friend will make you wish you had that type of relationship in your life too. (I'm pretty lucky in that I do!)
As Ursa sticks around, I found myself wondering all sorts of things - are aliens real? Is this little girl from another galaxy? And what are the five miracles she has to witness? As the story unfolds, you'll see exactly why these five things are just that to her: miracles.
The novel is deep, and the dialogue even more so because it seems... real. I found myself high-lighting several passages to go back and read later because they were impactful and really spark the imagination. There are several topics I didn't expect - mental health, murder, exploitation of children, and well, aliens.
I recommend this book whole-heartedly so give it a read! It's available on your Kindle for only $4.99, or if you have Kindle Unlimited - free!
Let me know what you think!