Book Review: Stars in The Grass

21 Dec

Nine-year-old Abby McAndrews has just experienced her greatest loss, and in its wake, her family is unraveling with guilt, grief, and anger. Her father, Reverend McAndrews, cannot return to the pulpit because he has more questions than answers. Her older brother Matt’s actions speak louder than the words he needs to confess, as he acts out in dangerous ways. Her mother tries to hold her grieving family together, but when Abby’s dad refuses to move on, the family is at a crossroads.
Stars in the Grass, set in a small Midwestern town in 1970, is an uplifting novel that explores a family’s relationships and resiliency. Abby’s heartbreaking remembrances are balanced by humor and nostalgia as her family struggles with — and ultimately celebrates — life after loss.


Ann Marie Stewart grew up in Seattle, Washington and is a die-hard UW Husky (and Wolverine) after earning a Masters in Film/Television from University of Michigan. She originated AMG’s Preparing My Heart series, write the column “Ann’s Lovin’ Ewe” for The Country Register and blog for Mentoring Moments. Her first novel, Stars in the Grass released February 2017.

When not writing, She is waving her arms directing musicals, teaching middle schoolers, or watching UVA Basketball or Madam Secretary. In her free time she hangs out with her husband, raising two lovely daughters and a whole flock of fuzzy sheep on Skye Moor Farm, in Virginia — where unscripted drama provides plenty of entertaining material.


My Impressions:

Ann Marie Stewart’s novel, Stars in The Grass, won the 2017 Christy Award for Debut Novel, and after reading it I can understand just what wowed the judges. Moving, insightful, and full of heart and heartache, this novel grabbed my imagination from the beginning. I would not characterized it as an easy read by any means, but would call it a must-read. A grieving family is the at the center with all facing a new reality with differing responses. The journey is painful, but with a whisper of hope that touched this reader. Stars in The Grass is very highly recommended.

The year is 1970 and nine year old Abby McAndrews is faced with days of love and fun with her family. That is until the unthinkable happens, leaving a gaping hole in their hearts. Abby, brother Matt, dad John, and mom Renee return to their home and begin the process of getting over what occurred. But there is no getting over a broken heart or lost dreams or a shattered family. And the grief they experience prevents them from going back or moving forward.

Stars in The Grass is told in Abby’s first person perspective. I really identified with this character for a number of reasons — I am exactly one year older than her since we share the same birthday — so her life and times were mine. But it is her response to the loss of her brother that resonated with me. The losses I have experienced in my life — death of a child, loss of parents, and sudden death of my brother-in-law — were met with the same reaction as Abby. Fear. The fear of what the next day or moment could bring because life had become uncontrollable and uncertain. Stewart’s realistic portrayal of Abby and the other characters’ responses to death are so realistic that I felt the bitterness, the guilt, the anger, the fear, and the hopelessness of each. But in the end they and we can know that grief can be accompanied by hope. Was it easy for the McAndrews family (or for us)? No. But the assurance of a God who brings light even in the darkest of pits can get us through.

Easter came in the midst of the family’s grieving and Abby found the following:

My Easter was about being lost and found. It was about a Comforter. About hope and life, and the birth of a Church, and resurrecting dreams even when nobody quite knew how. But we were together and we were talking. And something about that felt — for now — almost good enough. (p. 245)

As I stated, Stars in The Grass is not an easy read, nor is it a quick one. This book is meant to be read in an unhurried manner, allowing for breaks for emotion and thought. It is an award winner for a reason. It is beautifully written with realistic and complex characters, and a subject matter that will make you think. If this is what a debut looks like, then I am eager to read more from Stewart.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


9 Responses to “Book Review: Stars in The Grass”

  1. Burma Turner December 21, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    This sounds like a book I would love. Thank you for the review!

    • rbclibrary December 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

      You are welcome! I hope you like it.

  2. bellesmoma16 December 21, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    Great post. I’ve been vacillating whether to put this book on my mountainous TBR pile or not. Your review has definitely swayed me to get this book asap! Great review. 😊

    • rbclibrary December 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

      Hope you like it! And thanks!

  3. Carrie December 21, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    I was sitting at her table at the Christy Awards & got to watch her face as she realized the first line of the winner they were reading was HER first line. Such a great experience!

    • rbclibrary December 21, 2017 at 1:44 pm #

      I bet that was great! Such a good book. I have to admit I wasn’t sure where it was going, but it is really a strong look at grieving and the bigness of God.


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