The Lilly Stars by Erin Waters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genres: Historical Fiction; Coming of Age
In a dimly lit room in an 1890’s tenement house on Delancey Street, Lilly brushes the hair out of her mother’s face as she lies languishing in the last stages of tuberculosis. Reluctantly, Lilly succumbs to her own exhaustion, falling asleep by her mother’s side as she whispers her last words.
Lilly wakes up in Connecticut’s vast countryside on a farm under the temporary care of Doctor Ashby, the doctor who tried to save her mother’s life. Feeling alone, she struggles to accept her mother’s death while adjusting to the new world she has found herself in, a world of uncertainty.
Forging relationships with Doctor Ashby and his family, Lilly discovers they are as much in need of her as she is of them, while her loyal and untamed friend, Laurie, never fails to bring life into her soul and adventure into her heart even in her darkest times.
As Lilly is going through her mother’s things, she happens upon letters revealing a past her mother hid from her compelling Lilly to remember her mother’s last whispered words, exposing lies that Lilly built her life upon, forever altering her future.
Captivating and heartfelt, The Lilly Stars has wormed its way onto my list of favorite books. For me this was the ultimate comfort read, and it's one I will definitely revisit.
This is Lilly's story, written from her first person point of view. Following her journey after her mother's death, this story is ultimately about Lilly building relationships and finding a place of belonging. After going to live with the widower Doctor Ashby and his two sons, Lilly's wounded heart begins to heal, though she's not without blunders and mishaps along the way.
Erin Waters has a very fluent and effective writing style, making Lilly's story very personal and easy to follow along with. The Lilly Stars was slow-paced, yet I had trouble putting the book down and almost finished it in one day. It is a very character-driven novel, and the characters were so memorable and their relationships so tangible that I couldn't help but keep reading.
Lilly, loving and with something of a temper, was a flawed and sympathetic protagonist. Doctor Ashby was the perfect father for her, and I think there is more behind his character that has not yet been revealed. Ethan, sweet and silly, made me laugh, and I thought his friendship with Lilly was adorable. Laurie, Lilly's best friend, was the spunkiest thing and got her friend into quite a few scrapes. My absolute favorite things about this novel were the friendships and relationships between the characters. Especially Lilly and Ethan (I do hope they grow up and get married). I think the theme of friendship is at the core of this novel, and Waters executed it so well through these characters, who had their ups and downs but ultimately prevailed.
The mystery surrounding Lilly's parents, and the secrets Lilly's mother kept from her were never fully revealed (though I have my suspicions). The ending was left open, and I think the story is unfinished, so I will be anxiously awaiting a sequel.
One thing is certain, and that's that this book has not received the recognition it deserves. I highly, highly recommend it to lovers of historical fiction and coming of age tales. This one will touch your heart.
**I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!