Now and again I will find a synopsis intriguing even though it falls outside of what I usually read. Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrich is one of those books. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a free copy for my honest review.
About Stars of Alabama:
One child preacher traveling across the plains.
One young woman with a mysterious touch.
Two old friends, their baby, and their bloodhound.
And all the stars that shine above them.
When fifteen-year-old Marigold becomes pregnant amid the Great Depression, she is rejected by her family and forced to fend for herself. And when she loses her baby in the forest, her whole world turns upside down. She’s even more distraught upon discovering she has an inexplicable power that makes her both beautiful and terrifying—and something of a local legend.
Meanwhile, migrant workers Vern and Paul discover a violet-eyed baby and take it upon themselves to care for her. The men soon pair up with a widow and her two children, and the misfit family finds its way in fits and starts toward taking care of each other.
As survival brings one family together, a young boy finds himself with nary a friend to his name as the dust storms rage across Kansas. Fourteen-year-old Coot, a child preacher with a prodigy’s memory, is on the run with thousands of stolen dollars—and the only thing he’s sure of is that Mobile, Alabama, is his destination.
As the years pass and a world war looms, these stories intertwine in surprising ways, reminding us that when the dust clears, we can still see the stars.
About the Author:
Sean Dietrich is a columnist, podcaster, speaker, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, The Tallahassee Democrat, Good Grit, South Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, Thom Magazine, and The Mobile Press Register, and he has authored ten books. Visit Sean online at seandietrich.com or on Instagram.
Stars of Alabama is not just one story, it’s really three. They all flow towards each other and meet at the end but it’s a twisty, turny journey to get there. The first story involves a young and charismatic itinerant preacher with the unfortunate name of Coot. He is part of a revival troupe that is always in the shadow of another, more well known preacher. Coot is ill treated by the leader of the group but well loved by another member with whom he ultimately escapes.
The second story involves Marigold a young woman from an abusive family who gives birth in the forest and in her ignorance and confusion “loses” her baby. She spends the rest of her life trying to find her lost baby. In her travels she ends up in a brothel and befriends the ladies. She also discovers that she has a special ability.
The third tale is of traveling workers just trying to stay alive during the depression. They will do any kind of work to gather enough funds to buy a pig so they can roast it and make their special barbecue sauce to sell as they move about. On one stop they find a baby in the woods and decide to adopt it. On yet another they pick up a widow and two children. Somehow they manage to survive the Dust Bowl and the worst of the Depression.
This is a thinking person’s book. You can’t just breeze through it as you have to keep track of the people and where they are in the various storylines. Don’t let that scare you off of reading it though – it’s definitely worth the effort. It’s a well written, complicated and very satisfying book. The author does an excellent job of keeping the stories separate while deftly weaving them together. They are all people looking for some manner of redemption and most of all love and it’s not easy for any of them to find.
The Stars of Alabama is the kind of book that will get better on a second read I suspect.