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Book Review: Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrich

Monday, August 26, 2019

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all had a wonderful weekend.  It has been wedding central around here, but I'm ready to put planning on the back burner and let the (very) capable wedding planners take over from here!

Recently I read Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrich, AKA Sean of the South.  This book reminds me so much of John Steinbeck's work, only with a Southern accent.

According to Goodreads:

With a voice both humorous and heartfelt, Sean Dietrich—also known as Sean of the South—weaves together a tale about the dignity of humanity and the value of enduring hope.

One child preacher traveling across the plains.

One young woman with a mysterious touch.

Two old friends, their baby, and their bloodhound.

And all the stars that shine above them.

When fifteen-year-old Marigold becomes pregnant amid the Great Depression, she is rejected by her family and forced to fend for herself. And when she loses her baby in the forest, her whole world turns upside down. She’s even more distraught upon discovering she has an inexplicable power that makes her both beautiful and terrifying—and something of a local legend.

Meanwhile, migrant workers Vern and Paul discover a violet-eyed baby and take it upon themselves to care for her. The men soon pair up with a widow and her two children, and the misfit family finds its way in fits and starts toward taking care of each other.

As survival brings one family together, a young boy finds himself with nary a friend to his name as the dust storms rage across Kansas. Fourteen-year-old Coot, a child preacher with a prodigy’s memory, is on the run with thousands of stolen dollars—and the only thing he’s sure of is that Mobile, Alabama, is his destination.

As the years pass and a world war looms, these stories intertwine in surprising ways, reminding us that when the dust clears, we can still see the stars.

My Review:

I don't normally enjoy Depression-era books for obvious reasons:  The Dust Bowl of the Midwest is suffocating and frightening; the demoralization of grown men is devastating; and the desperation of mothers for their children is heartbreaking.  This book has all three, yet I still enjoyed it.

As the Goodreads blurb says, there are three storylines interwoven throughout the book.  Only two of them are connected: Marigold, the miraculous healer who lives in an Alabama brothel, and her lost daughter, Ruth, who was found in a Mobile-area forest by two friends.  Ruth and her new "family" are joined by a young mother and her two children.  The third narrative is about Coot, the prodigious 14 year old evangelist who narrowly escapes the Midwest Dust Bowl.  Coot's storyline meshes with the other two at the end of the book in a very surprising way.

One interesting aspect of the story is that Marigold and Coot seem to get stuck in their situation for a very long time unlike Vern, Paul, Ruth, and the rest of their little family.  Vern and Paul's family migrate to where they can find work, and although they don't have much, they are not shy about picking up and moving on in order to better their lives.  Marigold, once she moves into the brothel and works basically as a laundress, never leaves.  The prostitutes are kind to her, and they sort of have a little family, but nothing like the bonds of Vern and Paul's makeshift family.  Coot makes a huge mistake in judgment and ends-up near death near a railroad car where an older man who seems to have Jake-leg saves him.  They roam around for a very long time.  Both Coot and Marigold seem lost compared to the third storyline, and maybe Sean of the South is making a point about the strength in numbers, especially when it comes to family.

Hope is an underlying theme in the book, but action is as well.  The narrative is sluggish at times, which is a direct reflection of the choices to remain static by a couple of the main characters.  But once they decide to boldly choose another path, their hope is rewarded.  Lesson learned...and I will carry these characters in my heart, especially Marigold and Coot, for a very long time.  If you enjoy Southern fiction, then you must add Stars of Alabama to your reading list.

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Disclosure:  I recieved this hardbound copy of Stars of Alabama from the publiser, Thomas Nelson, via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I admire the way you read books that are not well known, and possibly out of your comfort zone, and still enjoy them! I agree, this does sound depressing at first, I can't imagine living during those hard times!

  2. Hi Ricki Jill,
    I bet you are getting excited for the wedding. I bet it will be the most beautiful wedding. I am excited for you. This sounds like a great read too. Thanks for sharing your review.

  3. I normally don't read depression era books either, for the same reasons, but that's kind of the draw of this book for me. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  4. The way you photographed the book is so pretty.

  5. I enjoyed your review RJ. I love southern fiction so this might be a good to add to my reading list for fall.
    Have a great weekend......


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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