Where the Forest Meets the Stars is a story about a young ornithologist named Jo, who rents a house in rural Illinois to study nesting birds. Her solitary routine is interrupted when a girl approaches her from the woods. She calls herself Ursa and claims to be an alien who came to Earth to study humanity. Supposedly, she’ll go back to her homeworld once she’s witnessed five miracles here on Earth.
Jo suspects her to be a runaway child whose return to an abusive home might put her in further danger. With help from a reclusive neighbor, Gabe, Jo tries to find out more about Ursa’s past in order to help her.

Through these unusual circumstances, the three of them form an unbreakable bond, all the while knowing that untangling the mystery around the girl’s identity — whoever she is — might not just destroy that bond, but also result in other serious consequences for everyone involved.

As a reader:

I was drawn to this book ever since I first saw the cover. And as soon as I read the blurb, I was entirely hooked.

As a reader, I expected the girl’s origin to play a much bigger role in the narrative, but I was actually glad that wasn’t the case. What I most enjoyed about it was exactly the forming of unusual bonds between the three protagonists; the slow but steady growth of emotions that felt natural and real.

I also appreciated that the female character, though traumatized by her recent experience of a double mastectomy, was the strongest character of the three, with the least need of saving.

As a writer:

Although this is the author Glendy Vanderah’s first novel, she is very skillful in weaving the complicated backstories into the narrative, without it seeming like a huge info-dump.

I also enjoyed the way she handled the setting. Her decriptions are very evocative.

The way she developed the relationships between protagonists was very gradual and nuanced. It just felt very natural and unforced.

I recommend reading this book if you’re a writer struggling with:

  • the ‘show, don’t tell‘ rule
  • creating suspense in a ‘timid genre’ such as romance or women’s fiction
  • weaving in backstory without info-dumping
  • the gradual development of emotional bonds between characters.

Read my article Tips and Trick to Create Suspense Inspired by ‘Where the Forest Meets the Stars’ by Glendy Vanderah, published on CritiqueMatch Blog.