CBR14BINGO: Star Square
(Stars in the title, main character named after a star, all sorts of star gazing and other starry business)
Joanna is a graduate student studying the nesting habits of birds at a remote cabin used by her university. A cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy, Joanna is also mourning the death of her mother. While finding relief in her research and the solitude of the woods, she is interrupted by a young girl who strolls out of the woods claiming to be from the stars. At first, Ursa seems like a neglected girl from a home nearby. When she refuses to budge from her spacegirl story and evades any attempt to have the authorities intervene, Joanna and the nearest neighbor, Gabriel, find themselves becoming surrogate parents for a girl they know nothing about.
The book starts out well but goes off the rails quickly. There are just too many plot points. It’s like right as the pot starts to simmer a whole mess of mismatched ingredients is thrown in. Gabriel’s backstory is a convoluted tangle with far more going on than needed for the story’s sake. Social, healthcare, and law enforcement workers engage in fairly dubious behavior that was pretty unbelievable. Depression is discussed in uncomfortable ways. The best summation I can come up with? It’s a sort of Where the Crawdads Sing but with birds, a smidge more parental guidance, and a whole other story shoehorned in about the folks who lived up the road.
It could be a great novel about three traumatized people (Ursa, Joanna and Gabriel) finding solace in one another but it gets in its own way too much.