Fourth-grader Julia (which I think puts her at nine or ten years of age) and her grandmother, Grammu, are really close, cosmic-twin close, sharing, among other things, a love of stars. When Grammu gets the disappearing illness, Julia is determined not to lose her. Fortunately, there is a star predicted to fall the following night, and rather than collecting the healing stardust, as the other kids will do, Julia intends to catch the star itself, like one of the townsfolk did years earlier. It cost him his hands but it gained him a wish. Julia’s wish is for Grammu to stay with her forever, but when her first attempt to catch a star goes awry, Julia must find another means to make her wish come true.
This is a likeable story of a brave girl determined to save her grandmother. On one level it’s a straight-forward read, with a strong-minded heroine who has to overcome all kinds of dangers on her journey. The only means Julia has to get her wish is to climb a ladder to the stars, an allegorical journey of the traps and pitfalls on your journey through life, where it’s easy to be distracted from things of real value by glitzy fakes. There is a theme also about the connection with those you love lasting beyond death.
The Healing Star seems to be set in a small town in America, and though it has fantastical elements (ladder to the stars, healing stardust, cloud people, etc) there’s no particular explanation for any of them. It’s not that kind of a story. However, I did particularly like the star-catching activities and the disappearing illness (yes, Grammu is literally fading away), and the healing ability of stardust. Ultimately this story is about family and never truly losing those you love. I think kids will enjoy both Julia’s adventures and the deeper themes running through them.
TOTP (who worried throughout the book about Pete the beagle, Julia’s loyal companion, who couldn’t climb the ladder) and I award The Healing Star an entertaining 6 out of 10 Diamonds.
Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review.