LIGHT from DISTANT STARS
Genre: Christian Fiction / Magical Realism / Rural Fiction
Date of Publication: July 16, 2019
Number of Pages: 400
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When Cohen Marah steps over his father’s body in the basement embalming room of the family’s funeral home, he has no idea that he is stepping into a labyrinth of memory.
Over the next week, Cohen’s childhood comes back in living color. The dramatic events that led to his parents’ separation. The accident Cohen witnessed and the traumatic images he couldn’t unsee. And the two children in the forest who became his friends–and enlisted him in a dark and dangerous undertaking. As the lines blur between what was real and what was imaginary, Cohen is faced with the question he’s been avoiding:
Is he responsible for his father’s death?
Master story weaver Shawn Smucker relays a tale both eerie and enchanting, one that will have you questioning reality and reaching out for what is true, good, and genuine.
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Have you ever finished reading a book and not known how to react to it because it is so different from anything you’ve ever read? LIGHT from DISTANT STARS is that kind of book.
The story is dark, often foreboding, definitely intense, and the reader is challenged to discern the imaginary from reality. It is a different kind of reading experience that results in a very visceral reaction. You’re not so much reading about something or someone, but intimately experiencing events and emotions. It is not only an eerie sensation but at times it can be deeply disturbing.
The narrative is driven by the protagonist’s childhood memories. Cohen Marah’s flashbacks recall his love for the game of baseball, youthful infatuation with a Sunday school teacher, disillusionment, jealousy, and betrayal after finding out that she is having an affair with the church minister (his own father), the breakup of his family, a car crash, arson, murder, and a dramatic confrontation with “the Beast.”
Guilt, regret, confession, and absolution are central Christian themes that weave in and out of Shawn Smucker’s story. After Cohen finds his father’s body in a pool of blood at the family’s funeral home, he wonders whether he could be responsible. Was this an accident or attempted suicide? If the latter, did he push his father into taking his own life?
As the investigation into what happened proceeds, and as his father lies dying in the hospital, Cohen also must try to help a young boy dealing with the disappearance of his mother, the death of his grandfather, and his abusive father’s reaction. It becomes a struggle between the forces of good and evil, darkness and light.
We are all reeling from things done to us in the past or from things we have done. But through reflection and acknowledgement of the truth Cohen comes full circle, renewing his faith in God and love for his family.
Light from Distant Stars is an apt metaphor that draws comparisons between a star’s creation in the heavens, the hundreds of light years its energy must travel for us to perceive it today, and the amount of time that it takes to look back on the events and people that have had an impact on our lives and put them into perspective. It is often difficult to discern what is true, good, or genuine in life. Only the passage of time provides the context that allows us to make sense of things that in the moment we did not understand.
Without a doubt Shawn Smucker has written a very thought provoking book. I was provided an advanced copy in exchange for my honest reaction to it.
Shawn Smucker is the author of the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, as well as the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
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Copy of Light from Distant Stars
+ Look to the Stars 8”x5” Journal + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card;
Copy of Light from Distant Stars + Personal Library Kit;
Copy of Light from Distant Stars + $10 Starbucks Gift Card.
July 17-27, 2019
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