The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Sometimes a great book will resonate with you so deep, you’ll clutch it to your chest and silently weep with its characters.

Children today might not grasp the true “magic” of the public library system. If the local library doesn’t have a book they want, it will be transferred from one location to the other. It’s so simple. During the Great Depression, books were not easily shared. In rural communities, many children had never held a book. Their unlikely heroes were women on horseback, traveling through the mountains to bring books to their doorstep. These women were known as The Packhorse Librarians.

PackHorse Library Kentucky

The Giver of Stars is the telling of several strong-willed women who choose to work as Packhorse Librarians in a time where women are still expected to keep their place in the home. Alice, a leading lady in this story, volunteered despite the protests of her husband and father-in-law. Alice was brought to the small town by her new husband whom she meet overseas in her hometown. Women of the town were not welcoming to the “foreign-girl” with the funny accent. Joining the library seemed like the only way she’d be able to experience any sense of freedom.

“Well behaved women seldom make history” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Margery is the strong-willed local whom leads the new library program. Margery is not well liked in town either which is part of how the two women bond. Having grown up under an abusive drunk, Margery is often judged for the actions of her long-gone father. Rather than be discouraged, Margery stares into the eyes of those who judge her. Margery’s character is very inspiring throughout the story, and is key to helping Alice realize her own potential.

The Giver of Stars portrays how easily society could be held back simply by denying access to literacy.

Prior to the Packhorse Library, the small town of Baileyville was much more bleak. People who had little outside of long work days and the threat of hunger, now had stories. Children who learned to read could read aloud to their parents. Adults could escape their pain in a new and positive way.

Jojo Moyes is phenomenal at keeping readers invested in her characters. You’re slowly woven into their choices, into their development throughout the pages, that you become part of their experiences. You’ll feel the sting of injustice and the overwhelming desire to whack Alice’s father-in-law upside his head. Alice, Margery, and the rest of the Packhorse Librarians do a tremendous amount of good for their town well beyond their delivery of books.

The Giver of Stars is a story of holding strong against those trying to break you. It is truly a stunning read.

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