Where the Forest Meets the Stars Info

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An Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal, and
Washington Post bestseller, and a Goodreads Choice Award
finalist.

In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious
child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.

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.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Where the Forest Meets the Stars:

5

Mar 10, 2019

I think so far this is one of the best book Ive read on 2019. Its so emotional, heart warming, poignant, amazing story of three people who try to live with the hand lifes dealt them.
Jo, in a remission from cancer, Gabe, fighting with his depression and a little girl Ursa who defines herself as an alien brings them together and seal their fates.

The story is about living not only surviving, staying strong and seeing the worthiness of your own life. Trio is surprising combination who complete I think so far this is one of the best book I’ve read on 2019. It’s so emotional, heart warming, poignant, amazing story of three people who try to live with the hand life’s dealt them.
Jo, in a remission from cancer, Gabe, fighting with his depression and a little girl Ursa who defines herself as an alien brings them together and seal their fates.

The story is about living not only surviving, staying strong and seeing the worthiness of your own life. Trio is surprising combination who complete which other. Jo, realistic, fighter, Ursa is positive dreamer and Gabe is wounded, exhausted, broken but not tarnished kind of hero.

It’s perfectly written book gives you hope, joy and positive look into yourself.
I think this is a fantastic debut novel and I cannot wait to read the new books of the writer sooner.

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5

Mar 04, 2019

There are books you read that you enjoy, there are books that you love, and then there are the books you hold in your heart. Having just finished Glendy Vanderah's stunningly beautiful debut novel, Where the Forest Meets the Stars , I know it will be one to cherish. What a special book this was.

Joanna Teale is an ornithologist who is recovering from a double blow: her mother's death and her own battle with breast cancer. Bearing physical and emotional scars, she returns to her graduate research There are books you read that you enjoy, there are books that you love, and then there are the books you hold in your heart. Having just finished Glendy Vanderah's stunningly beautiful debut novel, Where the Forest Meets the Stars , I know it will be one to cherish. What a special book this was.

Joanna Teale is an ornithologist who is recovering from a double blow: her mother's death and her own battle with breast cancer. Bearing physical and emotional scars, she returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in a rural Illinois town. She interacts with very few people—only the man from down the road who sells eggs, and those she encounters on her trips to the laundromat when the rain keeps her from her fieldwork.

One night her solitude is broken by the appearance of a barefoot young girl dressed in dirty clothes, who has bruises on her body. The girl claims to be an alien from the distant planet Hetrayeh, and she calls herself Ursa Major. She says that she is on her own type of graduate study, and can return to home only after she witnesses five miracles. (It's up to her to determine what constitutes a miracle.)

Jo is worried about what kind of a family situation Ursa has left, and even though she is concerned about her bruises, she knows the right thing is to return Ursa to wherever—and whomever—she escaped from. But Ursa sticks to her story about being an alien, and when Jo calls the sheriff to report Ursa's appearance, she runs away. And when the sheriff's deputy doesn't prove helpful anyway, Jo lets Ursa stay with her—temporarily—until she figures out what to do next.

As the days pass, Jo begins to rely more and more on Gabriel, her next-door neighbor and the "egg man," to help her figure out what to do with Ursa, since the child has become attached to him as well. Gabriel has his own traumas to deal with, including social anxiety and a host of family-related issues, but the two can't help but be drawn to one another. Inherently, however, they know that a relationship between them can't work, given the fact that Jo will return to her graduate studies in the fall, and they also know that they need to contact the police, so Ursa can be returned to her family or at least placed with a foster family.

But why hasn't Ursa shown up in any missing-children bulletins? How can this young child not only read, but understand ornithology texts and Shakespeare? Why won't she tell them the truth about where she really came from, and why does she keep endangering herself by running away every time Jo and Gabe try to get to the bottom of her family situation? There can't possibly be any truth to the story she's telling them, can there?

"Gabe started to live as Ursa did, in an infinite present disconnected from the past or future. Jo let him have his fantasy. And she let Ursa have hers."

As the summer draws to a close and all of their lives approach a crossroads, one night will change everything. It will put all of them in danger and expose the lies they've been telling themselves, and threaten to destroy the fragile trio they have built, even if it's built on a dream or a fantasy.

From the very first sentence, I was hooked on this story. It reminded me a little of Eowyn Ivey's beautiful novel The Snow Child , in that the presence of a seemingly magical child transforms those in desperate need of rescue. But Where the Forest Meets the Stars has its own magic, buoyed by Vanderah's masterful storytelling, gorgeous imagery, and the immense heart of this book.

I'll admit as I was reading this, I vacillated between wanting to get to Ursa's "real story" and hoping that she was perhaps telling the truth, despite the fact that such a resolution might require me to suspend my disbelief. But at its core, Where the Forest Meets the Stars is a story about friendship, love, bravery, and how the family we choose is often more important to us than the family we belong to, so I decided it didn't matter how Vanderah wrapped up her story.

When I saw that this book was one of Amazon's Kindle First selections last month, I really wanted to read it, but couldn't fit it in. However, I couldn't wait any longer, and nearly read the entire book yesterday during a cold, rainy day. It was one of those books you want to devour yet savor, and of course, I was sad when I finished it. But I know these characters will live in my mind and my heart for a long time to come.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yrralh/. ...more
4

Jan 19, 2020

what an absolutely delightful surprise gem of a story.

this actually reminded me a lot of the great alone and where the crawdads sing. these stories are proof that an appreciation for nature and the comfort it lends can lead us to the most insightful and human of moments. i strongly believe that our environments play a crucial role in our development as people, so i really enjoyed reading about ursas search for miracles in the new world she finds herself in.

with unhurried writing and what an absolutely delightful surprise gem of a story.

this actually reminded me a lot of ‘the great alone’ and ‘where the crawdads sing.’ these stories are proof that an appreciation for nature and the comfort it lends can lead us to the most insightful and human of moments. i strongly believe that our environments play a crucial role in our development as people, so i really enjoyed reading about ursas search for miracles in the new world she finds herself in.

with unhurried writing and tranquil presence, this is a story meant to gently reach the goodness in all of our hearts.

↠ 4 stars ...more
5

Mar 11, 2019

Theres a reason (or two or three) why Where the Forest Meets the Stars is an Amazon bestseller. Its special! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

So special, in fact, Im unlikely to forget this story or its characters.

Joanna has had her share of trauma and grief. As a breast cancer survivor still grieving the loss of her mother, she goes back to graduate school to study birds (this in and of itself was fascinating, and a fun tidbit- the author had this same profession). Joanna has become a workaholic living a solitary There’s a reason (or two or three) why Where the Forest Meets the Stars is an Amazon bestseller. It’s special! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

So special, in fact, I’m unlikely to forget this story or its characters.

Joanna has had her share of trauma and grief. As a breast cancer survivor still grieving the loss of her mother, she goes back to graduate school to study birds (this in and of itself was fascinating, and a fun tidbit- the author had this same profession). Joanna has become a workaholic living a solitary life consumed by her studies.

Until, one day, Ursa, shows up at Joanna’s rental. Ursa is a young girl, a bit quirky, who doesn’t seem to have a home. She tells Joanna she’s been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. Joanna is too practical to buy this story and insists that the girl go home…Until the girl finally convinces here there is no home. Joanna thinks eventually she’ll find out more so she can help Ursa…

Jo asks her neighbor, Gabriel, for help – to find out who Ursa is, where she’s from. The more they learn about Ursa, the more confused they are. The inconsistencies in her knowledge make no sense. She’s a child well-versed in Shakespeare? (Among other conundrums).

The three become the best of friends as the summer is close to ending. Ursa has found her fourth miracle, and the fifth could happen at any time. There’s a synergy building when all of their pasts are exposed. What will the future be like for these three lovable characters?

While I guess Where the Forest Meets the Stars has a paranormal or fantasy aspect, it doesn’t feel that way. The story is grounded firmly in the here and now, and Ursa has a magical power that can be only described as love. Pure, unadulterated, innocent love. The miracles she witnesses are truly beautiful (experiencing them through her eyes melted my heart), but the beauty in Ursa is all the love she exudes to those around her and the effect she has on them as a result. Oh my goodness, Ursa! You simply have to meet her.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars is a story of friendship and the power of healing through friends. The writing is straight forward, not a spare word, easy-to-read, and so full of heart, all you are left with is hope in the end, and who doesn’t want to be left with that?

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com ...more
5

Mar 01, 2019

4.5 or maybe 10 stars, I don't know. My mind is still blown. Don't ask me about stars right now.

Oh wow! I know I shouldnt begin a review with Oh Wow but I was so blown away with Where the Forest Meets the Stars that it has taken a few days to put words to my thoughts (and you see how well that has gone, right?) Oh wow is what I have come up with so far.

Joanna Teale is an ornithologist is safely tucked away in a researchers cabin on the marshes of southern Illinois where she is completing her 4.5 or maybe 10 stars, I don't know. My mind is still blown. Don't ask me about stars right now.

Oh wow! I know I shouldn’t begin a review with Oh Wow but I was so blown away with Where the Forest Meets the Stars that it has taken a few days to put words to my thoughts (and you see how well that has gone, right?) Oh wow is what I have come up with so far.

Joanna Teale is an ornithologist is safely tucked away in a researcher’s cabin on the marshes of southern Illinois where she is completing her graduate studies on nesting practices. It is here that she is healing her body and soul after a battle with breast cancer. Nearby is Gabe, the “egg man,” who lives on the farm up the road and is battling demons of his own. Into their lives a young girl wanders. She calls herself Ursa and claims to be an alien in search of five miracles. It is obvious to Jo that the girl needs help on multiple levels, but the girl is brilliant and cagey and every time that Jo attempts to turn Ursa into the “authorities” she eludes them, leaving Jo to care for the girl until Jo can unravel Ursa’s secrets and find out her past. Surely she isn’t really alien, is she? As Jo and Gabe begin caring for Ursa, they find themselves enveloped in a healing process of their own. But there are secrets yet to be uncovered that will have devastating effects on them all.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars is truly a magical tale. In the beginning you wonder if, in fact, it is going to fall into the realm of paranormal. Soon, however, you realize that the magic and wonder that Ursa possesses isn’t fantasy but rather the wonderment of love and that love; true, unselfish, altruistic love, has a healing, restorative effect on those with whom Ursa comes in contact. The miracles that Ursa seeks, baby birds in a nest or new kittens being born, pale in comparison to the miracles she brings to the lives of those around her. This is a story of forgiveness, friendship, restoration and, most importantly, love. It is simply but poignantly written, almost as a parable, and is one I encourage you all to read. ...more
2

Feb 11, 2019

This was an amazon first read selection for February '19. I read through it very quickly -- it is that kind of book (and I took a 'read' day this past weekend for myself).

I think that the premise and the characters were actually quite unique and built on a solid foundation. As a research wildlife biologist myself, I related to both the biologist side of Jo, but also to the complex, agoraphobic Gabe...and to the awkward, fumbling relationship dance they endured with each other. I would have This was an amazon first read selection for February '19. I read through it very quickly -- it is that kind of book (and I took a 'read' day this past weekend for myself).

I think that the premise and the characters were actually quite unique and built on a solid foundation. As a research wildlife biologist myself, I related to both the biologist side of Jo, but also to the complex, agoraphobic Gabe...and to the awkward, fumbling relationship dance they endured with each other. I would have given it 3.5 stars up to that point.

BUT...the book fell completely flat in the end. So much so, that as I was reading the last 10%, I was wondering if I had switched to a different book and a different author. The ending was disorganized, fantastical (in a bad way), and felt so rushed in an effort to tie up all the loose ends in just a few pages that it left me a bit disoriented. So much so that I had to read the last few pages twice to even understand what was going on. Also, after just coming off a reading high with 'Where the Crawdads Sing' and how well that author tied biology/nature to the story, this book really disappointed me in that regard. In fact, I was surprised to learn that the author was an endangered bird specialist -- this felt to me like someone writing about field research that had not experienced it. I think the author missed an opportunity to bring in that aspect more.

Final note in case it will be helpful to others. I almost went to a 1-star review because of how the main character, Jo, handled Gabe's mental illness. This book was obviously written by someone who has not experienced depression...Jo pushing Gabe to be comfortable in a city, shaving his beard off, and expecting him to just 'get over it' was triggering to me. This lack of understanding and empathy is how I am often treated by others and it infuriated me to read. 'We' need to do a better job at not dismissing depression as an 'excuse' for someone to 'hide in their bed'. It is a mental illness, not a choice. ...more
5

May 08, 2019

Unique In So Many Ways!!

As a self-professed contemporary romance junkie, this read is outside my usual genre, which I have been finding myself more and more. Captivating is definitely one adjective I would use, as well as unexpected and so very special.

It was an out of this world experience to listen to this extraordinary story. While there is a bit of romance involved, it is more about hope, friendship and miracles.

There is a reason you will see five star after five star reviews. It is Unique In So Many Ways!!

As a self-professed contemporary romance junkie, this read is outside my usual genre, which I have been finding myself more and more. Captivating is definitely one adjective I would use, as well as unexpected and so very special.

It was an ‘out of this world’ experience to listen to this extraordinary story. While there is a bit of romance involved, it is more about hope, friendship and miracles.

There is a reason you will see five star after five star reviews. It is gorgeously written.

I may be wrong, but I think this is Ms. Vanderah’s debut novel, which is quite amazing in itself. ...more
5

Mar 29, 2019

Its not a hype! I could not pull away!!!
This book is soooooo easy to love!!!
There is storytelling...
and then there is
FRESH- ORIGINAL- DELICIOUS - MASTERFULLY -ENCHANTING - TOTALLY
ENDEARING- storytelling...
This is one of THOSE books you want to read!!!!!

Go in blind! TRUST all the High Ratings!!!!

Wonderful- wonderful
- wonderful!!!!!!

Its not a hype! I could not pull away!!!
This book is soooooo easy to love!!!
There is storytelling...
and then there is
FRESH- ORIGINAL- DELICIOUS - MASTERFULLY -ENCHANTING - TOTALLY
ENDEARING- storytelling...
This is one of THOSE books you want to read!!!!!

Go in blind! TRUST all the High Ratings!!!!

Wonderful- wonderful
- wonderful!!!!!! ????

...more
5

Apr 22, 2019


Gorgeous storytelling and strong, relatable characters made this a book to treasure. You won't want to miss this one.

This gem has everything I love in a story. I was hooked from the very beginning and my curiosity only grew stronger as the mystery of the little girl named Ursa wandered up to Jo's cabin.

Ursa has a story to tell and  what a story it is!  Where did she come from? Where are her shoes? Why is she insisting she was sent to witness five miracles?

The author weaves the plot in an all
Gorgeous storytelling and strong, relatable characters made this a book to treasure. You won't want to miss this one.

This gem has everything I love in a story. I was hooked from the very beginning and my curiosity only grew stronger as the mystery of the little girl named Ursa wandered up to Jo's cabin.

Ursa has a story to tell and  what a story it is!  Where did she come from? Where are her shoes? Why is she insisting she was sent to witness five miracles?

The author weaves the plot in an all absorbing way that brings out the power of love, healing and true miracles. I was so invested in the characters and their lives that I was holding my breath during some of the heart-pounding and tension filled chapters.

Highly recommend that you get to know Ursa and her story! Unforgettable in the best way!

All the LOVE. This was an Audible listen for me and I have purchased my very own finished copy. ...more
5

Mar 27, 2019

A stunning story that will tug at your heartstrings,a tale bursting with love and sprinkled with magic!

I absolutely Loved every single word in this beautiful book! A magical tale about a remarkable girl who brought hope to many. BRAVO Glendy Vanderah! This is an exceptional story that will stick with me for a long time. The fact that this is a debut is as remarkable as Ursa.

Joanna is an ornithologist Who is spending the summer in rural Illinois, studying birds for her doctorate. She is still A stunning story that will tug at your heartstrings,a tale bursting with love and sprinkled with magic!

I absolutely Loved every single word in this beautiful book! A magical tale about a remarkable girl who brought hope to many. BRAVO Glendy Vanderah! This is an exceptional story that will stick with me for a long time. The fact that this is a debut is as remarkable as Ursa.

Joanna is an ornithologist Who is spending the summer in rural Illinois, studying birds for her doctorate. She is still grieving her mother’s death and recuperating from her recent fight with breast cancer. When Ursa shows up covered in bruises and claiming to be an alien from the planet Htrae Joanna doesn’t know what to do. Worried about the girl’s safety she allows her to stay with her temporarily. Joanna also meets Gabriel her reclusive neighbor, soon the two of them are working together to try to figure out what to do about Ursa. Ursa is a special little girl and quickly worms her way into both Joanna and Gabe‘s hearts, and before they know it they are no longer looking for missing children reports. Will the magic of Ursa heal Joanna and Gabe’s hearts?

Ursa might have only been nine years old but she was one of the most extraordinary characters I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in a book. Alien or human, from the stars or from the earth, it doesn’t matter she was an amazing character! Whether she had special powers or not she was magic! Joanna and Gabe weren’t too bad either, I really loved how much they loved this little girl. I had a tremendous amount of sympathy for both of these characters, they had gone through some pretty tough times and I really wanted them to find their way to one another and to happiness.

This book was truly unique, a breath of fresh air! I’m afraid my words cannot do it justice. This is an absolute must read, the kind of book that will always have a piece of your heart.

*** many thanks to Lake Union for my copy of this book *** ...more
2

Mar 09, 2019

★★✰✰✰ 2 stars

If I could just rate the first 30% of this novel I would have given this 4 stars. Sadly, I found the depiction of depression and social anxiety to be lousy and, worse still, I thought that the romantic relationship between the two leads is...worrisome.

Initially I was enjoying this story. In spite of the main characters' troubled pasts (Ursa, a child who shows signs of abuse, claims that she is an alien researching human beings; Jo is finally finishing her PhD after the death of her ★★✰✰✰ 2 stars

If I could just rate the first 30% of this novel I would have given this 4 stars. Sadly, I found the depiction of depression and social anxiety to be lousy and, worse still, I thought that the romantic relationship between the two leads is...worrisome.

Initially I was enjoying this story. In spite of the main characters' troubled pasts (Ursa, a child who shows signs of abuse, claims that she is an alien researching human beings; Jo is finally finishing her PhD after the death of her mother and having survived her own breast cancer—from which she is still emotionally and physically recovering; and Gabriel, a young man who sells eggs by the side of the road) the story seemed light-hearted. Jo and Gabriel begin to get to know each other thanks to Ursa, together they eat marshmallows, watch birds, go for a swim. I sort of understood why Jo and Gabriel didn't drag Ursa to the police. They worried that she would run away, or worse end up back in a potentially abusive home. They do check missing children websites and early on Jo does end up calling the police. I didn't mind that they were being somewhat irrational...I thought this is a fluffy, feel-good read, why would I want things to be too realistic?

For me things changed when the story begun focusing on the romance between Jo and Gabriel. Jo had initially dismissed him as 'egg man', but soon they realise that they have a lot in common.
What bothered me is that Jo seems suddenly interested in Gabriel. On the basis of this new 'interest' she feels that she can push her way into his private life. After he tells her that he suffers from social anxiety and depression she forces him to 'get out of his shell'. She pesters him, believing that someone can just 'snap out' of depression, tells his mother of their relationship (does one kiss institute a relationship?) when he clearly was not comfortable with her doing so (she pushes past him, goes into house, and reaches out for Gabe in front of his mother: “captur[ing] him around the waist before he got away”), when he admits that he has never been kissed, rather than giving him time, she kisses him: “His body was radiating heat—and maybe fear. He recoiled a little when she put her palms his chest.”
Gabriel doesn't like the way his face reminds him of his father and Jo thinks that she can 'snap him out' of his anxiety and self-consciousness by shaving his beard when he clearly tells her he wants to keep it. She coaxes him by saying that she loves “a clean-shaven face' and by bringing in Ursa, asking her “Don't you think he'd look handsome?”. When he says that “nope”, “no”, and “I don't want to see his face every day!” Jo ignores his wishes, kisses him and asks: “Don't you want to be irresistible to me?”
They've known each other for what, two weeks? The day after their first kiss and bang! Jo waltzes into his private life, dismissing his trauma, his boundaries and his mental health,. Because she has survived cancer she thinks that she understands all illnesses and traumas. The story, rather than showing how harmful and emotional manipulative Jo is being it shows us that it works! Gabe is cured! Apparently true love cures depression. Who knew.
If Jo was a man and Gabe was a woman this relationship readers would find that it is unhealthy, and that Jo's behaviour fringed on being emotionally manipulative. But Jo is woman so the way she treats Gabe is 'okay'.

I was so angry at Jo that I became disconnected from the narrative. Ursa seems largely forgotten, relinquished to the sidelines, and is only given a few silly/cute lines. When the truth behind her identity is revealed it seemed over the top. The ending was laughably neat.

Read more reviews on my blog ...more
4

May 19, 2019

4.5 stars. This is the second most unique story I have read this year, behind Daisy Jones & The Six. There are other books worth mentioning, but somehow very few stories manage to surprise you continuously and unfold so elegantly and meaningfully. This book deserves to be studied by aspiring writers out there, thats how worthy of our attention it is.

I loved Ursa the moment she appeared in the story, which did not take long at all. She and Jos interactions are priceless. Jo is a graduate 4.5 stars. This is the second most unique story I have read this year, behind Daisy Jones & The Six. There are other books worth mentioning, but somehow very few stories manage to surprise you continuously and unfold so elegantly and meaningfully. This book deserves to be studied by aspiring writers out there, that’s how worthy of our attention it is.

I loved Ursa the moment she appeared in the story, which did not take long at all. She and Jo’s interactions are priceless. Jo is a graduate student working on a project related to nature to obtain her Ph.D. and Ursa is a young girl who claims to be an alien in search of five miracles. Jo has no time to care for a child, but she also can’t get rid of Ursa, despite her attempts. Looks like they’re stuck together. For how long, no one knows.

I would have enjoyed this story even if it had been only about Jo and Ursa, but interestingly other characters are introduced and involved in this delicate situation. Relationships are developed and secrets surface from unexpected places. I first thought this would be a magical realism story, full with wondrous fantasy elements, which would have been welcome, but it stays very realistic while having this almost fairytale-esque atmosphere.

Believe me, I wish I could give it five full stars. But alas, the last chapters, while well-written, changed everything—the story, relationships, vibe—too suddenly. It’s a satisfying ending, no doubt. Yet, it felt rushed. It did not, however, lower my love for the characters. I am down to read a companion novel from Ursa’s perspective anytime.

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5

Mar 25, 2019

A girl lost from the stars. A woman claiming herself after illness. A man burdened by his mind and family. Each one discovers life and love in spite of their individual trauma. These three are as varied as the stars but their need to move forward with life connects them in memorable ways. Set in a rural forest town filled with nature, mystery, tears, romance, and even a bit of suspense, Where the Forest Meets the Stars will capture you body and soul. The writing is lovely and the story radiates A girl lost from the stars. A woman claiming herself after illness. A man burdened by his mind and family. Each one discovers life and love in spite of their individual trauma. These three are as varied as the stars but their need to move forward with life connects them in memorable ways. Set in a rural forest town filled with nature, mystery, tears, romance, and even a bit of suspense, Where the Forest Meets the Stars will capture you body and soul. The writing is lovely and the story radiates starlight and miracles. “How long was I asleep?” “About fifteen degrees of star movement.” This is Glendy Vanderah's debut novel and I found it to be such a nice surprise. I absolutely loved it. Seriously, check it out.

My favorite quote:
“As always, words fail when you most want to say the right thing.” “People think they have to say something, and it never makes me feel better.” “I know. I’ve decided language isn’t as advanced as we think it is. We’re still apes trying to express our thoughts with grunts while most of what we want to communicate stays locked in our brains.”

Audiobook talently narrated by Lauren Ezzo.
...more
5

Feb 01, 2019

Oh my heart. Sob sob sob. I loved, adored, TREASURED this book and I didnt want it to end. I dont want to give anything away so Ill keep it brief but it was just PERFECT. Full of magic and hope and despair and pain and longing and love and loss and fear and more magic. Woven throughout the story are threads of love. Love lost, love gained, love that the characters dreamt of but werent sure they deserved, werent sure they were capable of. Tenderly and beautifully written. Oh my heart. Sob sob sob. I loved, adored, TREASURED this book and I didn’t want it to end. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll keep it brief but it was just PERFECT. Full of magic and hope and despair and pain and longing and love and loss and fear and more magic. Woven throughout the story are threads of love. Love lost, love gained, love that the characters dreamt of but weren’t sure they deserved, weren’t sure they were capable of. Tenderly and beautifully written. ...more
5

Aug 20, 2019

I was taken by surprise by how much I loved this book. The protagonist, Jo, is working toward her PhD and spending the summer studying birds and their nests in the woods. Shes had a very rough couple of years, but at no point did I find her to be self-pitying. Shes a strong, admirable character, and her tragedy is revealed over the course of the story.

A precocious little girl shows up at Jos remote cabin with a feral dog. The girl is wearing pajamas and no shoes but wont tell Jo who she is or I was taken by surprise by how much I loved this book. The protagonist, Jo, is working toward her PhD and spending the summer studying birds and their nests in the woods. She’s had a very rough couple of years, but at no point did I find her to be self-pitying. She’s a strong, admirable character, and her tragedy is revealed over the course of the story.

A precocious little girl shows up at Jo’s remote cabin with a feral dog. The girl is wearing pajamas and no shoes but won’t tell Jo who she is or where she is from. Instead, she claims to be an alien who has been sent down to earth to learn about human ways and witness five miracles. She can speak convincingly in a tongue that is certainly alien to Jo. Eventually they decide to call the girl Ursa, as in the constellation Ursa Major. Ursa says that if Jo calls the cops, she’ll run. Since Jo doesn’t know what situation the girl is running from, she figures she can at least feed the girl and then try to figure out who she is by checking missing children databases online. When nothing works, she enlists the help of her neighbor Gabriel.

Gabriel doesn’t recognize the girl as local. He also has a complex backstory that emerges over the course of the novel.

I teared up many times at this story and these wonderful characters and the way even damaged people find love when it’s completely unexpected. ...more
4

Sep 08, 2019

This story is really beautiful. I had never heard of this book before, but somebody left a comment on one of my YouTube videos comparing this book to The Humans by Matt Haig (aka one of my favorite books ever), so I immediately wanted to read it. This book is my favorite kind of genre: contemporary with a small sci-fi element to it. It follows this woman named Jo, who recently lost her mother to cancer, and has also recently beat her own battle with cancer when a little girl shows up on her This story is really beautiful. I had never heard of this book before, but somebody left a comment on one of my YouTube videos comparing this book to The Humans by Matt Haig (aka one of my favorite books ever), so I immediately wanted to read it. This book is my favorite kind of genre: contemporary with a small sci-fi element to it. It follows this woman named Jo, who recently lost her mother to cancer, and has also recently beat her own battle with cancer when a little girl shows up on her property in dirty clothes and claims to be an alien sent from the stars. She claims that she needs to witness five miracles before she can return home.

I love contemporary books that involve aliens in some way. This book reminded me of a lot of things I love, the alien aspect of this story definitely reminded me of The Humans, but Ursa (the little girl) kind of reminded me of Eleven from Stranger Things, and she reminded me of the marsh girl from Where the Crawdads Sing. This book has this mysterious atmosphere because for most of it you’re trying to figure out where Ursa came from, and if she actually is an alien or if she’s just a troubled little girl running from an abusive home. There’s also a slow burn romance happening between our main character Jo, and the neighbor down the street Gabe. Their romance was so cute and sweet and definitely a slow burn, which I appreciated.

Gabe suffers from depression in this book and I feel like the topic of depression and mental lines in general is handled really well and sensitively in this book. Depression isn’t something that can be “cured” with the snap of a finger, and I appreciate that his mental illness isn’t sugar coated and it’s represented in such a real way.

Ursa is easily my favorite character in this book, she’s absolutely fascinating. One of my favorite book tropes is following an “alien-like” character who’s a fish out of water when it comes to Earth things and it’s so entertaining to watch characters like this discover things about Earth. (view spoiler)[I also love love love that you never really find out if she is an alien or not. If she’s not - she’s pretty fucking convincing haha, but I love the fact that we never really find out if she made the whole thing up as a way to escape from this horrific life she previously had or if she is genuinely an alien in this little girls body (hide spoiler)]

The only reason why this book gets four stars instead of five stars is because I feel like the last 50 pages of this book really dragged, and the story didn’t really go where I was expecting it to. I just felt like I was waiting for it to end. (view spoiler)[I feel like it could have ended after she saw her fifth miracle and said she had to go, and then if she died in that scene it could have ended with this mysterious feeling of “did the little girl just die? Or did she return to the stars?” And it could’ve just ended there and been really ambiguous and awesome but instead we got another 50 pages of detectives ruining the mystery of her character and explaining every little thing that happened and then we get the happily ever after ending. Idk I guess I just expected more from that ending. (hide spoiler)]

But overall, wow I’m so impressed. I can’t believe this is a debut novel. These characters really touched my heart and I’m so happy I read this. I won’t be able to stop thinking about it anytime soon. ???? ...more
1

Apr 27, 2019

Ok, I see all the glowing reviews and think that maybe I read a different book. Maybe Amazon sent the sucky version to my Kindle. The writing was weak. Character development was thin. I finished it out of spite. DO NOT waste your time.
5

Nov 29, 2018

4.5/5

When my publicist buddy Ashley sent me this and said, you were this first person I thought of when I finished this one, its right up your alley and is very similar to Catherine Ryan Hyde I had a feeling I was in for a treat! Man was she ever right, I was totally charmed by this one its such an unusual and gorgeous read.
I adore books about unlikely friendships and the sudden bond that develops between Jo and Ursa was the type that I like most of all. Jo is a broken woman, she battled breast 4.5/5

When my publicist buddy Ashley sent me this and said, you were this first person I thought of when I finished this one, it’s right up your alley and is very similar to Catherine Ryan Hyde I had a feeling I was in for a treat! Man was she ever right, I was totally charmed by this one it’s such an unusual and gorgeous read.
I adore books about unlikely friendships and the sudden bond that develops between Jo and Ursa was the type that I like most of all. Jo is a broken woman, she battled breast cancer at a very young age and has isolated herself from the outside world. She’s an ornithologist making it very easy to live a secluded life and the last thing she wants to deal with is a young girl. Ursa is the type of character that grabs your attention and your heart instantly, she’s such a strange child, but she’s precocious as well and she wiggled her way into my heart just as fast as she got into Jo’s. These two were both incredibly well developed, very deep and complex and extremely fascinating, especially Ursa. I was dying to hear her full story because the story she shares with Jo was so out there and I read this one fast because I was so intrigued.
This had such a magical feel to it, both because of Ursa’s individuality but also because Vanderah has a bewitching writing style. I absolutely loved the meaning behind this, it was about the bonds of love, second chances and most importantly the power of keeping hope alive.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars in three words: Enchanting, Insightful and Extraordinary. ...more
5

Apr 11, 2019

4.5 stars rounded up!

This is not a book that was on my radar at all, but I kept seeing all these rave reviews so I thought I would make some room and take a chance. I'm really glad I did because I normally would have skipped right by it had it not been for friends reviews on Goodreads.

Within the first page I was hooked on the lives of these characters. Jo is an ornithologist renting a house in the woods when a young girl, Ursa, appears and claims to be an alien from the Pinwheel Galaxy. Her 4.5 stars rounded up!

This is not a book that was on my radar at all, but I kept seeing all these rave reviews so I thought I would make some room and take a chance. I'm really glad I did because I normally would have skipped right by it had it not been for friends reviews on Goodreads.

Within the first page I was hooked on the lives of these characters. Jo is an ornithologist renting a house in the woods when a young girl, Ursa, appears and claims to be an alien from the Pinwheel Galaxy. Her mission is to witness five miracles on Earth. Jo believes she is a missing child and tries to find out where she is really from. During the time that Ursa stays with Jo, the aloof man who lives next store gets caught in Ursa's spell and soon the three of them are far beyond returning things to as they were before her arrival.

It's best to go in as blind as possible because there are a lot of special moments in this story. There was a plot point I didn't see coming that I thought really kicked this up to another level. Without it, I am not sure I would have given it such a strong rating. If the descriptions of "magical", "fantasy" and "alien" scare you off - don't let them. This is a really special book that should be read by everyone. I can't believe it's a debut!!

Thanks to Netgalley, Lake Union Publishing and Glendy Vanderah for the opportunity to read this book and provide an honest review.

Review Posted: 4/11/19
Book Publication Date: 03/01/19 ...more
5

Mar 18, 2019

Favorite Quotes:

As always, words fail when you most want to say the right thing Ive decided language isnt as advanced as we think it is. Were still apes trying to express our thoughts with grunts while most of what we want to communicate stays locked in our brains.

He was teaching her how to play poker, and they were using oyster crackers as betting chips. First guns, now gambling, Jo said. Youre a bad influence. Not for long, he said. We cant stop eating our money.

"And I know what youve been Favorite Quotes:

As always, words fail when you most want to say the right thing… I’ve decided language isn’t as advanced as we think it is. We’re still apes trying to express our thoughts with grunts while most of what we want to communicate stays locked in our brains.

He was teaching her how to play poker, and they were using oyster crackers as betting chips. “First guns, now gambling,” Jo said. “You’re a bad influence.” “Not for long,” he said. “We can’t stop eating our money.”

"And I know what you’ve been through—how it could have …influenced what you did.” Why did everyone think that? She kept her mouth shut, but she wanted to say that she wouldn’t have done anything different if she still had her mother and her breasts and her ovaries. She would love Ursa just as much.

Did she tell you she once snuck a lamb into the hospital? … She knows I love the baby farm animals she works with, so she packs the lamb in her car with its milk, drives up to Chicago, and sneaks it into my room two days after my breasts were removed. She takes this tiny lamb out of a shoulder bag, lays it on my bed, and hands me the bottle. There, she says, who needs tits anyway? There are other ways to give milk.

Before his life fell apart, he’d wanted to be an astrophysicist. He named his daughter Ursa for the Big Bear in the sky, and he’d taught her the names of stars and constellations. When Ursa was afraid of the dark, he would open her window a crack and tell her good magic that fell out of the stars was coming in her window. He said the magic would always keep her safe. After he died, Ursa opened her window wide every night, trying to let in lots of good magic.


My Review:

This captivating book bewitched and enthralled me. I delighted in the unexpected and stealthy hits of clever wit and levity that was surprisingly tucked into the most unexpected places. I gleefully endured the prickling and tauntingly enticing mystery that relentlessly beckoned to me to continue reading and ignore anything and everything beyond the screen of my Kindle.

Ms. Vanderah’s writing was alchemy and I was ensorcelled. I was repeatedly taken with the layered depth of the fascinating and quirky characters as well as the thoughtful creativity of the storylines, which were complex and beautifully textured with cleverly amusing and cringe-worthy details.

I waffled in my theories of whether the girl’s fantastical explanations and alien assertions could be true as she was oddly intelligent and insightful, and far more advanced than many adults in her ability to absorb knowledge or sketch, yet she was a small child with an estimated age of nine. My curiosity was as unabating as Ursa’s quarks. I reveled in this stunning and cunningly crafted tale from beginning to end and was absolutely staggered once aware it was the author’s debut. Glendy Vanderah is definitely one to watch. A Five-Stars rating is not enough by half. ...more
5

May 15, 2019


Still physically recovering from surgery for breast cancer, as well as in the recovery process of the death of her mother, Joanna Teale leaves the apartment she shares with her friend Tabby to focus on her graduate research in ornithology, to work in a home owned by one of the professors in the town of Vienna, Illinois, a rural spot about halfway between St. Louis, Missouri and Nashville, Tennessee. She stays pretty much to herself, other than small shopping trips into town, running to the
Still physically recovering from surgery for breast cancer, as well as in the recovery process of the death of her mother, Joanna Teale leaves the apartment she shares with her friend Tabby to focus on her graduate research in ornithology, to work in a home owned by one of the professors in the town of Vienna, Illinois, a rural spot about halfway between St. Louis, Missouri and Nashville, Tennessee. She stays pretty much to herself, other than small shopping trips into town, running to the Laundromat or stopping at the egg stand down the road and buying eggs from Gabriel Nash, who she refers to as “Egg Man.” She’s on her way back from town when she pulls into the gravel driveway and sees something, or someone, when she stops.

“The girl could be a changeling. She was almost invisible, her pale face, hoodie, and pants fading into the twilit woods behind her. Her feet were bare. She stood motionless, one arm hugged around a hickory trunk.”

Jo asks her why she’s there, and the girl said she’d been trying to pet Jo’s dog, when Jo explains, isn’t really her dog, but a stray. When she returns to the yard after showering and changing into more comfortable clothes, ready to begin grilling in the fire pit the girl isn’t there, but shows up soon after, watching Jo grill, and begins to ask Jo why she’s cooking outside. Jo asks her if it isn’t time for her to head back to her own home.

”She came nearer. ‘I don’t have a home on Earth. I came from there.’ She pointed toward the sky.”
“I’m from the Pinwheel Galaxy. It’s by the big bear’s tail.”
”I can’t go back yet. I have to stay on Earth until I’ve seen five miracles. It’s part of our training when we get to a certain age—kind of like school.”

There’s something about this girl, as much as Jo is to feel like she’s being played, that makes her also sense that there’s more to this story than she’s being told, this girl seems very young, and yet seems incredibly smart for her apparent age.

Up and out the door by dawn the next day she heads off to check her indigo bunting nests at three of her sites she’s monitoring, and on her way back home, passing the Egg Man’s stand. When she returns home, the girl has returned.

When she calls the Sheriff’s office, the deputy who comes out doesn’t seem to think she has a real problem on her hands, and if this kid has run away from her parents, or has no parents, she’s not going to necessarily be better off in a foster home. At a loss, she stops by the Egg stand and asks Gabe if he’d mind stopping by and seeing if he knows just who this girl is – and who her parents are.

Having read True Places by Sonja Yoerg, just prior to this, a story in which there is another otherworldly girl as a main character, I was a bit worried that this would pale in comparison, but I was happy enough to stay a little longer in this world where the answers aren’t always a few keystrokes away.

At its heart, this is really a story about love, in all its many forms, and the healing process of hearts broken, lives broken, and finding a way to live that allows the acceptance of love. Broken people looking for healing and something, someone to believe in, and maybe love is not the answer to everything, but sometimes love may indeed be all you need.
...more
5

Nov 11, 2019

4.5 stars!

This was my IRL book club's pick for October and needless to say I am SO glad that we picked this one as I really loved it.

Jo is doing research in Southern Chicago about Birds. She is living in a rental property all by herself and trying to escape life's everyday issues. One day a little girl and a dog show up at her property. She assumes this girl has run away from home and she's determined to bring her home. However, every time Jo tries, the girl runs away but ends up returning. The 4.5 stars!

This was my IRL book club's pick for October and needless to say I am SO glad that we picked this one as I really loved it.

Jo is doing research in Southern Chicago about Birds. She is living in a rental property all by herself and trying to escape life's everyday issues. One day a little girl and a dog show up at her property. She assumes this girl has run away from home and she's determined to bring her home. However, every time Jo tries, the girl runs away but ends up returning. The girl also say she's an Alien from outer space and she's come here see five miracles. Once she's done she will report back. Jo starts to play along and ultimately starts to really care for this girl, whoever she may be.

Gabe is a neighbor to Jo's rental house and they team up to try to get Ursa (the little girl) back home safe. Until one night a break in happens and everyone is hurt. In moments the bond that these three have formed is tested and we find out just how much everyone cares. We find out what has really happened in all their lives and how three troubled pasts can turn into a family...

I have to admit something, when I first started this book and Ursa was introducing herself as an Alien from outer space I honestly did not think I would like this book. However, I caught on as to why this was important to the overall story and fell in love with this book. I loved that the author brought together three people from three different backgrounds and they were able to love each other unconditionally. I also loved how much Jo cared for Ursa as she was her own when she did not have to.

This was such a heartwarming and emotional story. The ending really tugs at your heartstrings and at the same time there are a few chuckles along the way. Such a great debut novel and I will most definitely be reading more by Glendy! ...more
4

Mar 01, 2019

4.5 Stars! What a wonderful story. This is definitely an author to look out for!!!
4

May 03, 2019

Where the Forest Meets the Stars is definitely quirky - something I always enjoy in a novel when it is done right, and Ursa pulled off the quirky element perfectly! Is Ursa really an extra-terrestrial? Right up until the very end, you will be left wondering! This novel deals with child abuse, breast cancer and PTSD. Despite these heavy themes, the story is still hopeful and up-beat. All three of the main characters manage to survive their particular "hell on earth".

Three very damaged people (Jo, Where the Forest Meets the Stars is definitely quirky - something I always enjoy in a novel when it is done right, and Ursa pulled off the quirky element perfectly! Is Ursa really an extra-terrestrial? Right up until the very end, you will be left wondering! This novel deals with child abuse, breast cancer and PTSD. Despite these heavy themes, the story is still hopeful and up-beat. All three of the main characters manage to survive their particular "hell on earth".

Three very damaged people (Jo, Gabe and Ursa) come together to form their own little family and support group. Of course, Child Services and the legal authorities can't see their odd relationship in the same positive way.

This was an unconventional love story, where hope and love and "five miracles" triumphed over the terrible traumas which had affected Jo, Gabe and the indomitable Ursa. Hard to believe that this was the author's debut novel - well done!
Highly recommended! ...more
5

Sep 04, 2019

The beauty of this book is that you want to believe Ursas alien story; and at times start to think maybe it is true. Glendy Vanderah gives our little girl, Ursa, such a strong, passionate and intelligent voice that its impossible not to fall in love with her. As I thought might happen by the end of the novel I was bawling my eyes out. For so many reasons and at so many levels; none of which felt cheap or convenient.

Characters
Each character we encounter is unique and each has their own The beauty of this book is that you want to believe Ursa’s alien story; and at times start to think maybe it is true. Glendy Vanderah gives our little girl, Ursa, such a strong, passionate and intelligent voice that it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. As I thought might happen by the end of the novel I was bawling my eyes out. For so many reasons and at so many levels; none of which felt cheap or convenient.

Characters
Each character we encounter is unique and each has their own challenges. Individually these people felt like real people; who all have complex issues. From Gabe, a reclusive depressive 20 something who can’t get away as he cares for his ailing mother; to Jo, our strong lead female who has undergone a full mastectomy (before she reached 25 years of age), a recent orphan and full-time PhD student; to Tabby who is the kind of bubbly crazy friend that always knows how to do something seemingly insane to get a smile. Even out periphery characters are given enough life to feel like I could relate them back to real people I know.

Plot
This is a character drive story at its core. While the plot is very interesting (and gives us some tense and terrifying moments); the reality is that it’s less about a little girl who just shows up one day with no parents (and no one reporting her missing), and more about the love that grows between the child, our lead Jo and Jo’s possible love interest Gabe. Each of them struggles with their current life and each of them transforms through the book.

Miracles
I love how adorable Ursa’s ‘miracles’ are. I won’t spoil them for you; but it’s so heart warming and an important reminder that what may seem a miracle to one feels commonplace to another. And that we all experience miracles on a semi-regular basis; we’ve just lost the ability to see them as the miracles they are. This is a perfect book for someone who might be struggling to overcome a tough time or incident in their life. As all three characters are also doing so; but more importantly the reminder that miracles happen everyday; you just have to look for them.

Overall
Right from the opening line I was intrigued and ready to jump into this story. How can you not be curious when the first sentence is:
”The girl could be a changeling.”
It reminded me of the straightforward, to the point opening lines of Dickens. “The Marleys were dead to begin with”; the line is both enchanting, setting a mood and letting you know right away that something might be a bit off in this novel you’re about to encounter.
A couple months ago I thought Miracle Creek would be the best debut novel of 2019. Where the Forest meets the Stars has blown Miracle Creek out of the water and solidly affirmed itself as one of the best debut novels I have ever read (never mind for just 2019). I hope to see a lot more from Vanderah. Although I wouldn’t mind if the next story was a little less teary near the end (it’s just so embarrassing to tear-up on the bus).

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. ...more

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