Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stardust Summer by Lauren Clark

Stardust Summer by Lauren Clark finds us back in two worlds, much like Dancing Naked in Dixie. Plunged between the simple deep south and upstate New York, Grace Mason, a single mom doing her best to raise her elementary age son Evan, receives shocking news that all starts with a brown box on the front porch that, "could have been missed all together" in the Mississippi heat. Then again, as the story unfolds, if "you wanted to take a broad view of the thing..." (Lee 3, To Kill a Mockingbird) it really all started when Grace was a little girl and her father was her whole world.

From the beginning, the reader is immersed in the difficult adult relationship between Grace and her father. But, as fate takes a turn for the worse, the brown box on the porch means more than Grace will ever realize, because it turns out the be a shove off an emotional mountain for Grace, Evan, Kathleen (her father's 2nd wife and step-mother), and the handsome next door neighbor, Ryan (who just happens to be the town doc).  

While Grace thought life in Mississippi was what she needed, a pull to survey her surroundings at the hand of her father (you'll see) allows to view upstate New York in a new way. But the punches keep coming for both Grace and Kathleen. These two women spend their time wrapped up in a very difficult duet making choices to save their own sanity and protect those they love.

Happy endings are always a pleasing outcome, but the hardships endured to get there should never be forgotten.

Stardust Summer was a quick read for me, finished in two days. The plot moves forward aggressively and I appreciated the dynamics between the characters.  But, no matter how hard I tried, I could not like Grace, who serves as the protagonist of the novel. Her childish behavior irked me constantly, but that may not be the case for all readers. I find weak and whiny women often force me to seek fascination with another character. In this, Clark did not disappoint me. I adored Kathleen and loved Ryan. The young boy, Evan, reminded me a lot of my own son and I can admit that during  a particular struggle involving him, I did feel a pang of emotion for Grace, from one mother to another. I think this book has potential, and it certainly satisfies the romance reader cheering for the girl to start all over again.

I see a trend in Clark's book, well at least between Dancing Naked in Dixie and Stardust Summer: a struggle of relationship between fathers and daughters. I found this hard to connect to myself, but I know it's a problem for a lot of women out there. Clark's writing might be a soothing balm to those dealing with this particular conflict.

Overall I'd give this a 3.5 out of 5 stars. The plot was forward moving and the characters developed well, but a few of the events were contrived for me and I knew the ending long before I got there. With that said, I'd read another novel by her as there is always the element of Southern charm weaved within the pages.


  1. Cresta ~ Thank you so much for reading Stardust Summer! I'm glad that you thought that the plot moved quickly and that the character development worked for you. I did love writing Evan and Ryan's character and I adored Kathleen's spunk and tenacity. Grace was a struggle for me, also ... she was 100x more likable in the revised version (than 7 years ago when I wrote the story). LOL!

    I really appreciate your honest assessment of the novel ... and I can promise you that Searcy in "Pie Girls" won't have any Dad issues at all :)

    1. Looking forward to "Pie Girls" - glad there will be another novel to read!