Review: Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

When this book showed up in my inbox for review, I wasn’t entirely sure it was something I wanted to read. It sounded a little sad and on the heavy side so initially I set it to the side as a ‘probably wouldn’t review’ book.

But I wasn’t quite ready to write it off so I waited a few days to see if I might change my mind. The summary kept comping back into my mind and I kept thinking about the beautiful blue cover and interesting plot.

Eventually I decided on saying yes to this one, mostly because it sounded magical and elegant even if it was going to be a heavy, sad, tear jerker.


After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars (summary from Goodreads).


And I was right, this was a very emotional book but it was a special book. It was so memorable and stayed with me for a number of days after I finished it. I had to keep Kleenex handy and I had a few days where I just had to set it down to give myself a little breather.

This book had a lot to recommend itself—-so many emotional high notes as well. This book was about love, loss, grief, pain, longing, and all topped off with a little bit of magic. It was exceptional and a story that I didn’t want to see end, even if my emotions were ready for it to end already!

I loved the wildlife and biology angle in this book. I thought it added an interesting element to a much larger story and I think that readers will find those bits interesting and new. There were parts of the story that initially I thought weren’t going to work (ie; alien child Ursa), but surprisingly, after a couple of pages I didn’t care because the writing was beautiful, the use of wildlife interesting, and the characters real and well developed.

This is a book that you are meant to experience not just read about and think, sure I will add it to my TBR and pick it up some time. While you certainly need to be prepared for a heavy hitting emotional book such as this, the story itself is so beautiful that you don’t want to miss out on it and let it waste away on your shelf! Go out and read it. You will never fully be ready for this story, but have some Kleenex handy and just enjoy the unfolding of an interesting tale!

Book Info and Rating

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
Free review copy provided by publisher, Lake Union and TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: contempo lit, magical realism



5 thoughts on “Review: Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

  1. I love your review. This was a my “free book” from First Reads for February and, at first, I was skeptical. I could not have been wrong about it. As you wrote, it was magical and now has a place in my heart forever.

  2. I know what you mean Anne, about that urge to avoid tear-jerkers. But sometimes, as in this case, the experience is worth it. Loved the cover also. I personally had a couple of reservations about the characters’ discussions about treatment of depression, but Ursa won me over (how could she not?). Where The Forest Meets The Stars was a slow-burn for me, but ultimately a thought-provoking and memorable read.

  3. I just finished reading Where the Forest Meets the Stars for my book club. At first, reading the summary on the back of the cover, I thought this book was going to be trite and not worth the time it took to read it. How wrong I was! From the time that Ursa showed up with her bruises and bare feet, with the explanation of taking another girl’s dead body for her entry to Earth, I was hooked. The reality of child abuse, the investigations of bird nests, the scandals of past love affairs juxtaposed with the sweet daily routine of preparing for bed and scrambling eggs for breakfast. It was real and heart-breaking. I agree–bring your Kleenex–but read it.

Charming comments go here!

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