The Giver of Stars
Pamela Dorman Books
October 8, 2019
Imagine riding up steep paths of the Appalachian Mountains in heavy rains, treacherous snow, and humid heat to deliver library books. This was the daily lives of the women working for the WPA Packhorse Library, an initiative created by the First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt. Motivated by their love of books and bringing that joy to others, women across the nation volunteered to run their county’s division. Ride along with Margery, Alice, Beth, Izzy, and Sophia as Jojo Moyes transports you to Baileyville, Kentucky between 1935 and 1943 in her book The Giver of Stars.
Alice arrives in the remote town alongside her new husband, Sven. Seen as a foreigner, given her English accent, Alice struggles to find her place. Intrigued by an announcement during a town hall meeting, she signs up for a new endeavor.
Margery is mostly known as the town’s black sheep, judged by the remnants of her deceased father’s actions. Determined to live her life as her own, she devotes herself to the library driven to ensure its success.
Sophia is a well-educated woman with experience working at a library in Louisville. Brought back to Baileyville to care for her recently disabled brother, she becomes an asset of the library. Bringing her business savvy, the library has never been so organized, even though she is only able to work nights given the color of her dark skin.
Beth is the middle child of eight brothers. Her fierce tomboy attitude brings a bit of sass to her vocabulary. Plus, her inability to filter her thoughts and opinions can sometimes get her in trouble. Yet, she never fails to cut the tension and bring lots of joy and laughter to the group.
Izzy’s mom volunteered her to work for the library, but because of her uneven legs, she was reluctant to follow through. However, once she realizes her disability does not define her, she excels with not only working at the library, but finding happiness in ways she never thought possible.
Jojo Moyes brings her words to life, allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves into the pages. Her descriptions and attention to detail within the history melt into the most wonderous picture of the tenacious women’s lives. Nevertheless, the amount of time dedicated to character development results in a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. The pace felt a little slow towards the beginning, however this did provide a more intimate knowledge of the characters.
As a story of friendship, loyalty, determination, and following one’s own heart anyone can find this adventure gratifying. Especially, for those interested in American History and how education and literacy was spread throughout the nation during Roosevelt’s time as president.
Please note: A bit of caution to those triggered by alcoholism and physical abuse.