What if you had just one chance, one letter you could leave behind for the person you love?
What would you write?
Stella Carey has good reason to only work nights at the hospice where she is a nurse. Married to a war veteran who has returned from Afghanistan brutally injured, Stella leaves the house each night as her husband Vincent, locks himself away, unable to sleep due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
During her nights at the hospice, Stella writes letters for her patients containing their final wishes, thoughts and feelings – from how to use a washing machine, to advice on how to be a good parent – and usually she delivers each letter to the recipient he or she has died.
That is until Stella writes one letter that she feels compelled to deliver in time to give her patient one final chance of redemption…
Many thanks to Random House for providing me with a review copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Having read Rowan Coleman’s The Memory Book last year, which was somewhat of an emotional torture (in a very beautiful way), I tread with trepidation when I began reading We Are All Made of Stars. I never doubted it would be beautiful, but I prepared myself for emotional distress. After all, this is a book about a woman who works in a hospice, writing letters for people who are dying, and about the patients themselves.
And that’s where Rowan really wowed me: yes, it’s certainly moving, and at times very sad, but this was not an entirely emotionally distressing book. Her ability to have set a book in a place of sickness and death, and yet have all this light, and beauty, and love shining through from it is incredible. It astounded me what an uplifting book I found this to be.
I’ve always been a fan of hand-written letters, I love how personal they are, and what could be more personal than a person’s innermost feelings as they come to the end of their journey? The letters Stella writes for the patients are their final parting words and wishes, their last imparting of knowledge or asking of forgiveness and understanding. They explore the full spectrum of emotions; some are filled with regret and sadness, others with humour and gratitude, but (almost) all of them are filled with love. Some made me laugh, and others did indeed make me cry, but overall the letters gave a feeling of peace and acceptance, which was beautiful to read. Rowan has taken a deep look it to the complex emotions we as humans feel when faced with death and sickness, which is certainly thought-provoking.
Stella’s own story is also incredibly touching, as she suffers both grief and loss without death. She’s such a warm and caring character, it’s both heart-breaking but inspiring to see her put herself out there so much for others, when things aren’t right for herself.
The other main character you’ll meet is Hope, a girl on the brink of womanhood, who shows the struggles of being faced with your mortality at such a young age. I adored Hope, and glowed with pride as she built courage throughout the story.
There’s also possibly the best book cat ever and a very lovely man called Hugh. You’ll have to find out more about them for yourself.
I can’t praise Rowan Coleman enough for what she has done with this beautiful book; exploring such deep, complex issues with such warmth, light and delicacy. It’s an absolute must-read.