Title: The Promise of Stardust
Author: Priscille Sibley
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Matt and Elle were high school sweethearts who lost each other along the way, but they managed to find each other again and are now happily married. But when there’s a tragic accident that leaves Elle brain dead, Matt is bereft. He doesn’t know how he’ll move on and live without Elle, but the one thing he knows is that he won’t keep her alive on artificial life support. Elle watched her mother slip into a coma and waste away in bed as a vegetable, and her greatest fear was the same thing happening to her. That is, until Matt discovers that Elle was pregnant and there’s a small chance she’ll be still be able to deliver the baby. Matt deeply believes that the only thing that Elle would have wanted more than a dignified death would be to give their baby a chance to live.
The Promise of Stardust is a difficult, emotional read, made even harder by the fact that you know from the beginning that there will not be a happy ending. There isn’t going to be a miracle cure for Elle. She’s not going to magically open her eyes; she’s gone, and there’s nothing Matt or anyone else can do about it. The question, then, becomes what Elle would have wanted: would she have wanted Matt to pull the plug, regardless of her condition, or would she have wanted to hold on long enough to carry her child?
This is all made even more complicated by the current abortion rights battle in this country. Matt seeks the help of a lawyer in The Promise of Stardust, one who envisions this case in grand scheme of things. He wants to win in order to strike a blow to abortion laws everywhere, to ensure that the rights of the fetus are considered along with the rights of the mother. It brings politics and controversy into the story in a unique way, especially considering Matt wants no part of this fight. He just wants to save his baby, since he can’t save his wife.
If things aren’t difficult enough for Matt, it’s his own mother that’s fighting him on behalf of Elle in The Promise of Stardust. She knows Elle would have wanted a dignified death and doesn’t agree with Matt that a baby would have changed her mind. It’s such a difficult, complicated storyline, but Sibley writes it incredibly well. She puts all the ideas and issues out there without trying to change minds or manipulate emotions. She tells the story and allows the reader to come to their own conclusions about the issues.
There’s no “right” answer in The Promise of Stardust, no clean, easy out to tie the story together. It’s a book about shades of gray, of intentions versus emotion. Matt thinks he’s making the right decision on Elle’s behalf, just as his mother firmly believes she’s doing what Elle would have wanted in fighting him. These characters are well-written and sympathetic, and Sibley fleshes them all out so well (including Elle) in flashbacks. It’s an incredibly written and thought provoking story; it will also bring out strong emotions, considering the difficult issues the novel addresses.