About the Book
Book: The Year the Stars Fell
Author: Elizabeth Wehman
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release Date: April 14, 2020
In the spring of 1833, newlywed Betsey Baker-Swain’s simple life changes when she and her husband, Aaron, make a hasty decision to join Betsey’s family on a move from Pennsylvania to Michigan Territory.
Along the way, rainstorms, freezing temperatures, seasickness, and lack of privacy pale in comparison to what the family will encounter once arriving at their destination. Soon, daily trials will include ear-piercing howls of wild wolves, bad weather, clouds of mosquitoes, and disturbing situations with the natives. Even then, Betsey wonders if this trip will finally quench her father’s adventurous spirit.
Over the next year, the Baker family will gain incredible strength, divine trust, and unexplainable courage, but will it be enough to keep them at the tiny cabin by the twisting Shiawassee River? Will uncertainty overtake their determination or will God’s intervention sustain them enough to become a part of the history of a new land?
A well-researched account of the lives of a pioneer family as they travel west to settle in the Michigan Territory, The Year the Stars Fell delves deep down into the nitty-gritties of daily life back then. The kinds of things most westerns or books about the early settlers gloss over. I appreciated that the author didn’t try to romanticize the hardships these people faced. She laid it all out for everyone to see, from the majesty of an untouched country to the ugliness and heartbreak of illness and destruction. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and seeing what life could have been like in the early pioneering days.
However, as much as I enjoyed the story, I found the writing itself to be jarring, but that might just be a personal preference issue. Repetition is a pet peeve of mine, and not only were words used multiple times in the same sentence, but phrases were too, and ideas were repeated to the point I almost set the book down and didn’t finish.
Sadly, there were discrepancies in some of the finer details. I’m the kind of reader who, when they hear a date or age, immediately tries to reconcile the numbers. In this case, we were told that the parents had been married for 37 years, they moved to PA soon after they married when the oldest two children were still young, lived in PA for 30 years before they headed west, and their oldest child was 24. Math isn’t my strongest subject, but…
I also struggled with the ages of the children. It seemed to me that the girls’ ability to break out in spontaneous pitch-perfect renditions of old hymns perfectly suited to the occasion in question would have been beyond their abilities as the small children they were supposed to be. I know for a fact my own young daughters would not think to associate a hymn with the very mention of a key word in the song every single time the opportunity arose. With the author’s tendency to portray a 16 year old female as a child and a 24 year old man as one who’d just outgrown his teen years, I doubt she was thinking of the two youngest sisters as being mature beyond their years.
When it came to the older “children”, it felt as though the characters were written through the lens of a 2020 viewpoint, where a girl of 16 is considered a child, instead of keeping in mind the reality of life in the 1830s where a girl of 16 would have been considered a woman, or at the very least, a young woman almost ready for marriage, and a man of 24 would most definitely have been considered a man for quite some years.
Unfortunately, I found the way the characters were written made me dislike all of them, and sadly, I only kept reading to the end because I wanted to know what happened next in the story, not because I cared about the people. This book held great potential, and I started out feeling sympathetic to what they were going through, but bitterness, anger, and constant whining were themes ever-present to the point I tired of the characters and never felt invested in their stories.
I requested a copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
About the Author
Elizabeth Wehman’s writing career spans over thirty years and encompasses curriculum, periodical, journalism, and novel writing.
Her dream has always been to write novels and Elizabeth launched her first contemporary fiction, Under the Windowsill, in 2014. Since then, she’s added four titles to her shelf. They include: Promise at Daybreak, Just a Train Ride, Mere Reflection, and her latest complete historical work, The Year the Stars Fell.
She found the historical genre to be filled with rabbit trail research as well as walks through bygone cemeteries. The pioneers, of the early nineteenth century, reflected an amazing stamina and a determined courage to venture into the unknown. The Year the Stars Fell is based on a forgotten village established in the Territory of Michigan in 1833. She fell in love with the Baker family and the information she discovered about them gave way to folklore and tales of the early homesteaders. Two future novels are planned that will include the continuation of the nineteenth century farming community. The series will be called, ‘The Newburg Chronicles’.
In her spare time, Elizabeth loves to read and enjoys being out in nature. Her favorite places are digging in her flower garden, listening to the birds as they herald a new day, or taking a walk on the country roads surrounding her home in Michigan.
Elizabeth has been a trucker’s wife for over thirty years which helps supply the needed solitude to produce extraordinary stories. She has three grown children, four grandpuppies, and two sons-in-law.
More from Elizabeth
Texas Book-aholic, August 24
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 25
lakesidelivingsite, August 25
Inklings and notions, August 26
For Him and My Family, August 27
21st Century Keeper at Home, August 27
Connie’s History Classroom, August 28
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 29
Jeanette’s Thoughts, August 29
Locks, Hooks and Books, August 30
deb’s Book Review, August 30
For the Love of Literature, August 31
Older & Smarter?, September 1
Joanne Markey, September 1
Artistic Nobody, September 2 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Betti Mace, September 3
Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 4
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 5
Stephanie’s Life of Determination, September 5
Pause for Tales, September 6
To celebrate her tour, Elizabeth is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Year the Stars Fell and a $25 gift card to Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, which can be used online!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.