The Promise of Stardust – Priscille Sibley
William Morrow/2013
  By – Sheri de Grom

In her debut novel, The Promise of Stardust, Priscille Sibley breaks almost STARDUST BOOKCOVERevery rule I was taught as a new fiction writer. Yet, her novel is receiving positive reviews coast to coast.

The Promise of Stardust is about much more than the struggle of protagonist Dr. Matt Beauliu trying to keep his wife Elle, on life support long enough for their child to be delivered.

We learn in back-story that Dr. Beauliu’s wife was an accomplished individual. She’s a former astronaut, ran marathons and was a college professor. She wanted nothing more than to have a healthy baby. Elle had multiple miscarriages and      one stillbirth.

The novel opens with Elle having already fallen from a ladder and sustaining a severe head injury. She’s rushed to the hospital where her husband, an accomplished neurosurgeon, is on staff. Matt’s medical practice partner must perform the surgery Elle needs to live but the prognosis is poor.

Elle is left in a vegetative state. Elle had watched her mother die a slow, painful death hooked up to life support equipment during the final stages of cancer. It’s well known that Elle doesn’t want to be kept alive on life support.

Just as Matt is preparing himself to have the life support discontinued, he learns Elle is pregnant. Perhaps that’s what she’d wanted to tell him the night before when he’d been in such a hurry to get back to the hospital.

There’s an immediate shift in dynamics in the storytelling. Matt wants the baby. He believes he needs the baby to survive but that means keeping his wife alive.

What would Elle have wanted if she had known she was pregnant and needed to be kept on life support for the child to be delivered?

The Promise of Stardust utilizes back-story to fill in the relationships of Matt and Elle including the extended families and outside relationships they each had. The scenario provides the reader with more rounded characters.

The time-line moves from the past and then slips into flashback numerous times. I enjoyed this aspect of the storytelling and didn’t lose track of the characters or where they were in time. It provided a rich story with an abundance of texture.

The Promise of Stardust is the perfect book club pick. Great discussions are promised. The novel addresses both right-to-die and anti-abortion issues head on. There are also interpersonal topics to explore.

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. Mrs R says:

    Just finished this book, loved it. It is a must read !!!

  2. I have this book on my wish list. Sounds like I should move it up a bit.

    • Marney – ‘The Promise of Stardust’ is an interesting read in many respects. I enjoyed getting to know the characters by way of backstory that wasn’t intrusive. I hope you enjoy the read. The novel also gave me cause to stop and think about how long it had been since I had updated my Medical Power of Attorney and my Living Will (they are two seperate documents in the state I live in). Both my husband and I have updated ours. We don’t want there to be any doubt as to what we want should the difficult decision have to be made.

      • I think people undervalue what fiction can offer. This books sounds like a great example of learning to answer “what would I do if I was in that situation?” Stories help us answer those questions and prepare for such events….just like you and your husband have regarding medical power of attorney. Reading stories can be such a valuable pastime. 🙂

  3. Jane Sadek says:

    I miss backstory. I’m tired of all these protagonists and villains that show up in media res and then disappear without me knowing why!

  4. Wow, what a heart wrenching story idea! I’ll have to jot this one down for book club ideas. Another great one, Sheri. I always know I can count on you to deliver the goods. Thanks so much!

  5. This sounds so interesting! Your reviews are amazing, Sheri ~

  6. Sheri- Thanks for the review. The subject matter is definitely both thought provoking and heart wrenching. It definitely doesn’t sound like an easy read, but definitely something that would stimulate discussion in a book club. Great recommendation for use. (It may hit a little too close to home based on some personal experiences, but it may be something to pass along to some friends.)

  7. Thanks, Sheri! I have added this to my summer reading list. I hope your recuperation is moving along as you hoped.

  8. Denise Hisey says:

    Sounds like something Jodi Picoulet would write!

    • Denise – Funny, in a comment above I almost compared the subject matter to Jodi Picoult. If Jodi Picoult had written this same novel, the research would have been more extensive, although Priscille Sibley is a neo-natal RN. Or, perhaps I should say, Jodi would have added in more suspense.

      Jodi did write a novel involving mercy killing. It’s an excellent read and one of my favorites. The title is: ‘Mercy.’ Of course ‘Lone Wolf’ dealt with end-of-life issues. I was sure she had written a novel about coping with infertility but I just checked all of the book jackets (I’ve read them all) – and the only one that comes close to the issue is ‘My Sister’s Keeper.’ I’ve purchased her new novel but haven’t read it yet.

      The Promise of Stardust is a much lighter read than a Jodi Picoult novel.

  9. Emma says:

    Both of those topics have been in our news over here lately.
    Sounds like a controversial but worthy read.

  10. prayingforoneday says:

    I hope this award is fitting to your blog here x

    Please accept this award and song
    The “Shine on Award”

  11. This is the one you were telling me about! It sounds fascinating. I can see a movie coming in a few years. Great review. This is now on my summer TBR list! Thanks, Sheri!

    • Hello Mary – I do hope spring is continuing in your area. You’ve had more than your fair share of the white stuff this season.
      The promise of Stardust is a fascinating noel for a writer to read. It allowd me to study how Priscille Sibley used backstory almost as much as present day events to show a compelling and complicated slice of life. She wove the two together perfectly.

  12. The plot sounds compelling. Thanks, Sherri!

  13. What a GREAT theme for a novel. I love when authors tackle difficult subjects and also when they break those “rules” and write a great book in spite of them.
    Thanks, Sheri.

  14. Sheri, this review gave me pause … the issues are so urgent and yet it seems with great skill Sibley has given the reader a wonderful story. What a terrible decision for anyone. Thanks for another great selection 🙂

  15. Mae Clair says:

    I can see all manner of discussions being generated from this story, particularly if the reader stops to put themselves in Elle’s (or Matt’s) shoes. Beautiful title!

  16. Sounds like a riveting tale to read! Great review…no surprise there! smile…Congrats!

  17. Reblogged this on nyakundicyprian and commented:
    Good one

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