- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (February 5, 2013)
- ISBN-10: 0062194178
- Source: Publisher
Matt and Elle have known each other all their lives, growing up right next door to one another. Matt was two-years-old when he held baby Elle in his arms. Now in their late thirties they have been wed for a few years and suffered enough to last a lifetime. The couple, desperate to have children, have experienced numerous miscarriages and stillbirths, the last nearly taking Elle’s life. The last night they spend together, Elle breaches the subject of trying again, causing an argument. Matt can’t bear to think of losing Elle like he nearly did just a year ago.
Then the unthinkable happens: Elle falls from a ladder, striking her head. She suffers irreversible brain damage leaving Matt, a neurosurgeon, feeling helpless. He’s prepared to remove life support when the doctors discover that Elle is pregnant, nearly two months at this time. Everything changes, Matt knowing that Elle would do whatever it takes for a child, even if that meant keeping her body on life support so the pregnancy could be sustained. Elle’s always been a fighter, an astronaut who has experienced unbelievable physical and emotional stress and trauma. Yet, when Elle was a young teen, her mother suffered a slow and painful death from cancer. Matt can’t help but recall what that experience did to Elle and her family. When Matt announces his plans to Elle’s family and his own, emotions flare up. Elle’s father, an alcoholic, still holds hope that she will survive despite the medical facts. Matt’s mother, Linney, believes he is in denial and believes that Elle wouldn’t want to suffer, kept alive by artificial means. Linney claims that Elle signed a document indicating such and a courtroom battle ensues, pitting Matt against his own mother. He knows Elle would do anything for this child but will the judge (and the citizens of the small main town) agree? Soon the courtroom drama spreads to the news stations and what Matt hoped would be a very personal decision becomes very, very public. A painful battle begins, both Matt and Linney fighting for what they believe is right, what Elle would want if she was able to speak for herself.
If there was ever a book destined to be the topic of a book club, The Promise of Stardust is it. Sibley tells this incredibly emotional story with such grace and respect. A wide range of themes are brought to life, not only the obvious the pro-life/pro-choice debate but deep moral questions about life and death, about the pain of love and eventually, healing.
While the subject matter isn’t unique, Sibley makes the situation unique and wholeheartedly genuine and believable. Matt’s situation elicited such strong emotions; starting with complete sadness, devastation, and anger to a sense of closure and relief. Readers are drawn into the internal turmoil and debate Matt experiences as he watches Elle, the love of his life, so vibrant and adventurous in life, laying like an empty shell in her hospital bed. He repeatedly questions his decision to keep Elle alive, but when he discovers the journals she’s kept most of her life, his decision is made for him.
A truly emotional novel, I can’t recommend this book enough. Don’t shy away due to subject matter for while it does start out quite sad and emotional, the ending is so completely powerful and healing it makes the entire journey of reading the book well worth it. Highly, highly (HIGHLY) recommended.
Don’t believe me? Read an excerpt and judge for yourself!