review by Barbara Claypole White
Priscille Sibley’s powerful debut novel, The Promise of Stardust, is a compelling and compassionate story about a family torn apart in the wake of tragedy and ethical dilemma. It circles grandiose themes of life and death and has much to fuel book club discussions. And yet, underneath, it’s a beautifully crafted love story, one full of hope.
The book starts with gripping action: Matt Beaulieu, a thirty-something neurosurgeon, is working when he gets the call that his wife is in the E.R. Following what appears to be a minor accident, Elle McClure is brain dead. As Matt makes the heart-wrenching decision to terminate life support, he discovers Elle is pregnant. And this is where the real trauma begins. The family splits in its decision to keep her alive artificially so as to give the unborn baby a chance at survival. To make matters worse, Elle is a public figure. Everyone has an opinion on what Matt should do, and his intensely private family drama plays out in public. The ensuing court battle, which will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult, pits Matt against his own mother, who is an obstetrical nurse, and allies him with political groups whose agenda he doesn’t share.
Although The Promise of Stardust delves into emotionally charged issues, it never does so gratuitously. Yes, I had a few tears, but there was no melodrama, no sense that my heartstrings were being stretched to snapping point. And since the author is a neonatal intensive care nurse, I found the medical information fascinating not maudlin. The hospital settings really came alive.
What I enjoyed most, however, was the gradual unveiling of an unexpected marriage. In the first few chapters, I made incorrect assumptions about Matt and Elle’s relationship. We know they grew up together, and then we learn they were teenage lovers. But their relationship is full of twists and turns; we discover the truth through flashbacks that start with their first kiss and end with their decision to marry.
Elle is an intriguing heroine. A brilliant woman who—literally—reached for the stars. An astrophysicist, she walked in space but nothing mattered more than carrying a baby to term. And Matt just stole my heart. So many times, I stopped to think, “What would I do if I were him?”
As you’ve probably figured out, The Promise of Stardust is a page-turner. I consumed it in two days (despite a major deadline breathing down my neck). I highly recommend it. In fact, I might have to read it again….
The Promise of Stardust launches next month and is available for pre-order from any of these links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound.
For more information on the author, please visit www.priscillesibley.com
I will be giving away my advance reader copy to one lucky person! For a chance to win, please enter a comment below with your email address.
Barbara Claypole White is the author of The Unfinished Garden, a love story about grief, OCD, and dirt. Originally from England, she lives in the North Carolina forest with her family and a ridiculously large woodland garden.