OH MY STARS by Lorna Landvik
May 6, 2005
I've read only a few books by Lorna Landvik so far, but I already look forward to each new book she writes. Her latest, OH MY STARS, was quite different from PATTY JANE'S HOUSE OF CURL and her more recent ANGRY HOUSEWIVES EATING BON BONS, but I think this latest book is one that I'll remember for a long time.
Violet Mathers starts out in life feeling unloved and unwanted. She's too tall, too plain, and then after she loses an arm to a horrific accident in the sewing factory where she works (she is only sixteen years old at the time), she soon feels that her life is not worth living. At the age of 18, she leaves her father (her mother had left them years ago for another man), gets on a bus bound for San Francisco, hoping to be the second person to end their life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
What can only be fate happens during this bus trip. The bus ends up in an accident, and because they are stranded somewhere in North Dakota, she ends up being rescued by a very handsome young man named Kjel, and his good friend Austin, and they bring her home. This is the turning point of her so far miserable life, and her life is now on the upswing.
A good part of this book entails their travels as a musical band they call THE PEARLTONES, and Kjel becomes something of an Elvis-like music idol. The time period is the late 1930's, so rock n' roll has not yet been invented, color lines have not been crossed, and so their musical world is a bit different than what we know today. They encounter racism during their travels, as Austin and his brother Dallas are black, but Kjel doesn't see color, and while Violet was brought up to believe that blacks and whites should be segregated, she learns something new through her friendships with Kjel and Austin.
I really loved this book. I do have to admit that there were times when I felt the book could have been edited differently, but by the end of the book, I had a feeling that this was a story I would not forget easily. I am glad I read it and am looking forward to more by Lorna Landvik. This may have been her best book yet. Violet's early life was depressing, however, and some may not enjoy reading about her early years, but I saw this story as an uplifting type of novel, where even the almost impossibly sad lives can turn around if surrounded by people that care about them.
Violet narrates: "Who'd have ever thought a shunned, husky-voiced, one armed, big-chinned girl with a hive of bees in her head could live a life so full of miracles?"
I think that summed up the book quite nicely.