Light from Distant Stars: A Novel

Light from Distant Stars: A Novel

by Shawn Smucker

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When Cohen Marah steps over his father's body in the basement embalming room of the family's funeral home, he has no idea that he is stepping into a labyrinth of memory. As the last one to see his father, Cohen is the primary suspect.

Over the next week, Cohen's childhood memories come back in living color. The dramatic events that led to his father being asked to leave his pastoral position. The game of baseball that somehow kept them together. And the two children in the forest who became his friends--and enlisted him in a dark and dangerous undertaking. As the lines blur between what was real and what was imaginary, Cohen is faced with the question he's been avoiding: Did he kill his father?

In Light from Distant Stars, master story weaver Shawn Smucker relays a tale both eerie and enchanting, one that will have you questioning reality and reaching out for what is true, good, and genuine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493417735
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/16/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 364,120
File size: 16 MB
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About the Author

Shawn Smucker is the author of the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, as well as the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at

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Light from Distant Stars: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Michelle811 More than 1 year ago
I was so grateful to win a Bookish First giveaway for this book. This was a great read. Smucker has a wonderful way with words and his writing flows smoothly and beautifully. I enjoyed getting to know Cohen and as the book twists and turns, alternating between present day and Cohen's childhood, we get to learn why he thinks the way he does. I found this book profoundly sad, not in a tear shedding kind of way, but rather in a head shaking "this poor kid" kind of way. I became so invested in his story that I was sad to see it come to a close. Giveaways can be hit or miss, especially when an author is unfamiliar to you. This book was definitely a win for me and I'll be keeping this one around for awhile.
co_d_evans 9 months ago
Scrambled Reading Light From Distant Stars is a very hard to place novel, and if you're an impatient reader you likely won't be able to get very far into this one. It starts out swinging for the fences and seems to shape up as a run of the mill murder mystery, but the constant flashbacks keep you guessing and hinting at something more underneath the story itself. As other reviewers have mentioned, the flashbacks do slow the rate of story down, and I was at times wanting to skim over chapters to keep on going with the main plot. However, the regular recollections add a lot of background and depth to the story and its characters. The book is well written even clever and oddly left me nostalgic, but I wasn't blown away.
Anonymous 10 months ago
3.5 stars to be honest. I received this book as an ARC and I was so excited to read it- the premise of the book gripped me and had me hooked! I was immediately intrigued by the beautiful, simplistic cover! The story heavily focuses on family struggles and has a paranormal aspect to it. It definitely wasn't a heart-wrencher or tear-jerker like I expected, but it was an enjoyable storyline overall. Unfortunately, it didn't completely live up to my expectations but overall, I enjoyed the book. I found the story very slow-moving, stagnant, drawn-out, and even confusing at times. For pages at a time, I felt lost. That could have been because it also took me much longer than expected to read the book. And it took me much longer because I kept getting lost and it wasn't gripping me like I'd hoped.... It's just an endless circle. I love the twist that caught me off guard and got my reading the last 100-ish pages at a much quicker pace, but I still feel like the story didn't completely tie together at the end.
AdventuresofaBibliophile More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't quite what I had expected. That doesn't diminish the enjoyment at all however. I love a good character study, and that is exactly what this was. You follow Cohen through the accident that leaves his father on death's door. As Cohen moves through his emotions of his father's pending death, the confusion and heart break of his parents destroyed marriage and the little part he played in it, and the devastation of having essentially been abandoned by both parents, you see the growth of Cohen and the acceptance of his past. It was beautiful. There is a very heavy influence of religion in this story, and despite not having a religious background, this book was still enjoyable for me. This was a really good book. I definitely recommend if you are into Christian fiction, or if you like really good character studies. Thank you to Bookishfirst and the publishers for providing me this book in exchange for an honest review
bookbloggerKB More than 1 year ago
Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker Cohen is trying to figure out why his dad is lying in a puddle of blood in the basement of the family funeral home. Did he kill his father? While he tries to answer that question, the reader goes on flashbacks of Cohen’s early family life to determine how they arrived at this point. This book probes the father-son relationship that seems to be prevalent in our culture. “Maybe that’s the problem with fathers and sons—they lose each other. . . Everyone loses their dad. It doesn’t matter if you want to or not. It’s finding him again that’s the hard part. I don’t know if that happens very much.” Cohen counsels Thatcher, a troubled teen he meets in the hospital. This book is part fiction, part philosophy, part supernatural-thriller and part coming of age novel. The Aauthor was new to me, but this book made me curious to try his other books. It was well-written and the plot moved along at a decent pace, but I didn’t find a character that resonated with me. I definitely felt like I was an outsider looking in, trying to figure out what was happening. I was happy with the resolution of the book. It does offer hope and doesn’t strand readers in a dark place. Readers who enjoy Billy Coffey, or Ted Dekker, may find much to like in this book. I am grateful to the publisher for the free copy I received for this, my honest review.
Kristi_D More than 1 year ago
The book opens on the main character, Cohen, finding his father dead in the basement of the funeral home where Cohen works with his father. In the ensuing difficulties that come from such an event, Cohen finds himself beset with memories of his childhood and adolescent, split definitively by an event that basically destroyed his family. The story seems to a bit of an examination of father-son relationships. As you can see by my rating, I did not care for this book. For one thing, I was expecting more of an investigation into how the father died than was presented, especially considering that most summaries I read ended with, "Did he kill his father?" As it turns out, it was more introspection and reminiscing. Even as I started to realize that this book was more drama than mystery, it still presented me with little of interest. There are two threads followed--Cohen in present time dealing with what happened to his father (I won't spoil it, but there's something in the summary that is very misleading in this regard, and maybe I'm the only one, but I felt a bit lied to) and his memories of significant events of his past. The present-time storyline is fairly uneventful, filled with light conversations with his pregnant sister, confessions to a retired priest, and then sudden action near the end of the book that I didn't really understand the point of. The past-time storyline has a lot more going on, though it drags a bit here and there too. There are 2 more significant events in his past, one of which led to the split that broke up his family, and the other of which comes across as a supernatural element, which is maybe a bit confusing in this book. After some time, I came to suspect what was really going on, and turned out to be correct. However, it is severely lacking in explanation--not about how this supernatural memory came to be, but about how it actually made sense even in context. Building from that, because of the supernatural element, as well as a particular scene in the present-day storyline, I had a very difficult time knowing what was real later in the book, and I am not sure that was meant to be the case. It led me to be fairly unimpressed by the sort-of twisty action scene that happened near the end. Also, there was one huge plot thread just left hanging...something that happened during Cohen's adolescence that came to light near the end that should have had repercussions, and instead, somehow just became a catalyst for Cohen's realization (or reminder) that his father was not quite how he'd always seen him. I wanted to like this book. I read a couple of reviews by others that were glowing, and the premise sounded interesting. However, by the time I was 75% through, I felt like nothing had happened, and I just wasn't getting the point of it. There is also quite a bit of description and figurative language, which bogged down the story for me. By the last half of the book, I had started to skim the descriptions, especially every time the narrator, whether a child, teenager, or adult, stared at the sky or the city. This happened often. It let me to wonder if there was some sort of symbolism I was simply missing. Final thoughts: The book is labeled as Christian, though if I'd not seen that label on it, I never would have guessed it was meant to be Christian. The main character does visit a church and confess several times through the book, and there is a bit of a heart change near the end, but to me, it was fairly shallow.
Loretta_Eidson More than 1 year ago
When I began reading this novel, I kept questioning what I’d missed in the first chapter, so I went back and reread the chapter. Questions remained unanswered throughout the book. The toss-up between what was real and unreal and whether Cohen Marah actually killed his father kept me turning the page. In some sense, the context had me wondering if the novel was written along the lines of a Frank Peretti thriller or was Smucker walking the reader through Cohen’s imaginary past or maybe his nightmares? Were the dark shadows Cohen saw symbolizing demons or was he simply afraid of the dark and forced to face his fears of living in the family’s funeral home? Regardless, I cannot imagine the impact of a child being raised in a funeral home and encountering dead bodies on a daily basis. This eerie thriller took me on a journey in the life, actions, and thoughts of Cohen Marah. Cohen as a young boy and Cohen as a grown man. If you like thrillers, you’ll find this novel challenging and somewhat intriguing. I was given a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest review. All comments are my own.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This story takes place over 6 days but covers years of Cohen’s life. During the last 6 days of his fathers life, Cohen remembers much of his childhood. He remembers things that he had forgotten about. Everything that he remembers helps to lead him to being a better person. I really enjoyed every bit of this story. I received a copy of this book from Revell for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
DixieJudy More than 1 year ago
My first book I have the pleasure to read by Shawn Smucker and it was a novel that holds one’s attention right from the beginning. It opens with the main character Cohen stepping over his dead father in the embalming room of a funeral home. Did he kill him? He wipes the blood from his shoe from where he stepped in the pool of blood and leaves. He tells no one and waits for some one else to discover the body………Thus begins this riveting tale. Smucker takes you back and forth from Cohen’s childhood memories to present day and examines the hatred he feels for his mother and father and why. There are some very intense moments from the past and also in the present as his father lays hooked up to life support in the hospital. A lot of suspense and action makes this an interesting read…….My thanks to Revell for a great book.
DarkWolf707 More than 1 year ago
So where to start? Well first of all, lets get to the finer points of this novel. The writing is beautiful. Shawn Smucker knows how to write a haunting tale with vivid imagery that leaves you feeling like you’re walking between a dream and reality. Shawn explores the depth of a father-son relationship and awakening the faith of a man who’s questioned it ever since the loss of his family when he was young. It’s a good premise and one I was looking forward to, especially when reading about the mysterious supernatural creature called the Beast that haunted Cohen’s childhood. The sad thing is that the story never delivered. While the writing is excellent, the story is downright flat and ends up going almost nowhere. Cohen doesn’t know if he’s responsible for the death of this father, hence his nightly visits to confession. Then it’s back to the hospital for some dialogue with his sister before collapsing in a chair and crying about the futility of things and loss of something he can’t explain on the inside. And...we repeat. See where I’m going? The most interesting parts is when Shawn does the flashback scenes to Cohen’s childhood where he meets two mysterious children on their quest to stop the Beast. Honestly, I feel if Shawn had focused on that part of the story from the start and not bothered with an adult Cohen, it would have been a much stronger and interesting story. But then we come to the end, where everything we think we’re seeing...we’re really not. I admit, I wasn’t quite sure where Shawn was going with the story, other than trying in a way to show how fathers can hurt their sons. With the endless repetition and focusing on trivial details that (while written beautifully) didn’t add anything to the story, I feel a lot of what he was trying to tell ended up getting lost. Verdict: If you’re after good writing, obviously this is a book to enjoy for that. For a good story worthy of keeping on your bookshelf, I’d advise looking for something else. (I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author from the blogging program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)
Debragg More than 1 year ago
Oh my gosh! "Light From Distant Stars", by author Shawn Smucker is a story that is scary, but exciting. The kind that makes you want to finish reading it but you know that you will not be able to put it down until you finish it. I started to read it and I really was unable to stop. It is fast moving and very mysterious. Cohen Marsh has a lot of things in his background that he has to figure out what really happened. Will he be able to or will something happen again? I give this book a 5/5. I was given this book for a review by Revell Publishing Company and all opinions are mine.
Changed-by-Christ More than 1 year ago
Shawn Smucker is slowly but surely making his way into my favorite authors list with his mesmerizing and lyrical writing style and unique, gripping stories. What I liked about this book: The story. I honestly didn’t know whether I would like it or now but it surprised me. I though it would play out more as a murder mystery, what with them trying to find out what happened to Cohen’s father and all, but it was more of an emotional read about Cohen’s relationship with his father-and mother, to some degree. So even though it was unexpected, I loved it all the same. The characters. There was something about this cast of characters that made me really connect with them. They were real and flawed and searching just like all the rest of us and that, mixed with Smucker’s writing style, made me fall in love with every person in this story. The writing style. Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this, but Smucker’s writing style is so amazing and lyrical and, oh, he just has the ability to draw readers in and never let them out! What I didn’t like about this book: The fact that it ended. There was absolutely nothing about this book that made me not want to read it. Nothing. Nothing that made me dislike is, and nothing that would make me not recommend it to any person I meet. Yes, it was that good. **I received a complementary copy of this book but was in no way required to write an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this review are my own.**
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read from this author. His writing style is a bit different than I'm use to. He has strong characters though which he develops slowly like peeling an onion with precision. Cohen is a complex person who has had a troubled relationship with his father. They seemed to disconnect after Cohen's mother leaves with his sister. It must have been hard to be separated from his mother. I enjoyed the letters he received from Kaye, his sister as they grew up. The story is a very dynamic look at a father and son relationship. It's not unusual for a son to want approval from his father and Cohen desired that more than anything. He wanted his father to be proud of him, but he seemed to disappoint him on a level that was hard for Cohen to understand. He made lots of trips to church and after awhile I wanted to tell him to listen to the wisdom he has been told and move on. I don't want to take away the obvious topic of relationships because the author does a great job of examining how Cohen felt guilty of not really letting his father know how much he loved him. Cohen just seemed not able to let go of his guilt and it hurt to think he may not get the chance to tell his father how important he has been in his life. For me the book does make you think about your life and how your relationship is with family. Life is too short to let a day go by being angry because of your pride. It looks like the author accomplished a very important message through this book. Be thankful for everyday and let those you love know how important they are to you. I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads Blog Program. The review is my own opinion.
SemmieWise More than 1 year ago
** “ ‘There is evil in the world,’ she continued. ‘Did you know that, Cohen? There is evil, and most people live their lives content to ignore it. But someone has to do something. Someone has to stop it.’ ” “ ‘We are all broken, Cohen. We are all reeling from the things that have been done to us in the past or from the things we have done. We have all killed, all destroyed, all hated. There is nothing new in what you have done or what you are remembering, nothing new under the sun. This is confession: remembering and bringing something into the light so that it can be seen, held, and let go of, into the silence.’ ” ** Shawn Smucker once again delivers an incredible novel with “Light from Distant Stars,” a novel filled with family dynamics, overcoming brokenness and fighting the evil within us all. Told in six parts, taking place over six days, “Light from Distance Stars” tells the story of Cohen Marah over two different timelines — present day when he has just stepped over the dying body of his father, and the 1980s, when as a child he fights the ultimate battle of good versus evil. As his father lies dying in the hospital after a horrific accident, Cohen reminisces all the times he has failed his father, and his father has failed him. He recalls the event that led to his parents’ divorce and his father’s career change from pastor to funeral director; his childhood friend Ava and their joint love of baseball; and the two mysterious children Than and Hippie he meets and with whom he takes on The Beast. As Cohen struggles with guilt over his past actions, he must learn to find forgiveness — both for himself and his father — and to overcome his lack of self-worth. Smucker brings both timelines to shocking ends, ones the reader won’t see coming. “Light from Distant Stars” is a supernatural thriller that is also filled with emotional and family issues, as well as deals with the concept of confession. It contains many incredible themes, like how hope can be lost and found, given and taken; trusting when God goes silent; rediscovering a belief in God; “We are all broken. Hope remains. There is a Mender”; defeating the evil beast in us all; and familial relationships, especially between fathers and sons, and how they can be built up or broken down. Light and shadow are a constant piece of imagery weaving throughout this story — whether it’s the light reflecting off Cohen’s father’s bald head, or the street lights flickering on, or the fact that a star could have died before its light even reaches us here on Earth. Smucker is a beautifully descriptive writer. For example: “Her eyes are so close. Inside of them he sees another universe, stars being born and dying, galaxies revolving, light moving from one end of everything that exists to the other, lonely comets streaking icy paths through empty space.” Fans of authors like Billy Coffey and Craig Parshall or novels like Laura Gallier’s “The Delusions” will love this story. Five stars out of five. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
Nicnac63 More than 1 year ago
Well, this story certainly pulls you in quickly. No backstory, filler, or overdone descriptions, though I pictured the scene vividly in my mind. The last two lines of the first chapter held so much weight. With themes of faith, grief, and secrets, Light From Distant Stars intrigued me, but I found myself losing interest the further into the story I got. But keep in mind, with a science-fiction type of feel, this isn’t one of my preferred or usual genres. The writer is talented and uses stimulating word choices and sees the world in an interesting way. A man struggles with the death of his father, and with the possibility that he is the one responsible. The premise is so intriguing, but the pacing wasn’t fast enough for me. The story wasn’t straightforward enough and I found it confusing. There are interesting components of this story, and I sympathized with Cohen, but ultimately wasn’t captivated. Quote from the book: No, the one thing that weighs Cohen down in the shiny baldness of his father’s head, the way the light reflects from it the same way it did when he was alive. Thoughts on the cover: I love this cover—the light from the stars giving a light of hope. Thoughts on the title: For some reason I love titles that focus on light, skies, stars, the moon, or the sun. No idea why, but I do. Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. #LightFromDistantStars
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
I just read a book by Shawn this spring, The Edge Over There, and loved his unique style and voice. So when I saw the opportunity to read his newest release I didn’t hesitate and I’m so glad I didn’t. Again, I just love his voice. This is a very different type of book. So many questions from the first page. What was Cohen doing? Why didn’t he go to the police right away? What is holding him back? What is the Beast? If you only like light reads (which I like them as well) then this isn’t the book for you. But if you like things that are different, a bit darker and mysterious I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book. A copy of this book was given to me. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
4 Stars! This year I have challenged myself to read some books outside of my usual reading box, and so far it has been rewarding. I won this book from a raffle in exchange for an honest review, and what follows is a collection of my thoughts on this book. I want to start off by saying that I had a hard time getting into the book based on the first chapter. I was concerned that maybe I should have not entered in for a chance to read this book. However, I am rather stubborn and I never give up before 100 pages. The first chapter starts with a man,Cohen, walking into the family funeral home and finding his father laying on the floor in a pool of blood. Cohen appears not to be too concerned about the fact that his father is potentially dead and that is what gave me pause right from the start. As I mentioned earlier, I do not give up, and I am so glad that I pushed on. This book has so many good features to it that some may miss if they are not truly paying attention to what the author is showing them. Cohen has a huge heart and it is one he protects in his own way. His father was once a preacher and then life took a nasty turn and he became the owner of a funeral home. Cohen has a strained, if nonexistent, relationship with his stern mother. His relationship with his sister is better despite not seeing her as much as he would have liked growing up. Throughout the book, Cohen has to deal with the inevitable loss of his father, his guilt for past wrongs he and his father did to each other, and coming to terms with the fact that life does not always go the way a person wants it to. I believe that Cohen learns to grieve all aspects of the disappointments in his life growing up in a healthy way, and I found myself cheering him on to learn to move forward with his life. His grieving and guilt is a gradual healing, one that some people may see as simply a page filler is actually deeper than it first appears. Another aspect I liked about the book (though I guessed early on) was the paranormal flashbacks that happen from his past. During the book, it constantly switches back and forth between the present and the past, allowing the reader to see his fears and the dark being that haunts his youth for a short time. Overall, I LOVED this book. This was a fast read for me once I got past the first chapter and I cannot wait to see what else this author has swirling around in their brain.
Deanne Patterson More than 1 year ago
Light From Distant Stars is my introduction to this authors work. I would call it emotional and edgy. Definitely not my usual type of read. This is a sad book making you question at times what is real and what is not. Stepping over the body of his father triggers emotional questions about his past. A flood of memories ensues. What of these suppressed memories are actually real and what is not? Thought provoking story on the struggle of a father- son relationship in the past and present. Published July 16th 2019 by Fleming H. Revell Company. I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
Michael OConnor More than 1 year ago
Light from Distant Stars will latch onto your heart like a magnet and take your emotions on a trip to infinity and back. I will remember this story by Shawn Smucker for the rest of my life. Maybe longer. If you’ve ever lost someone very close to you, such as a parent, then you already know there’s a place in your heart that just aches. It may lessen in time, but it never really goes away. That’s the place this story touches! Yet it does it in an utterly subtle and tender way. I’m not sure if that’s what Shawn Smucker intended, but there it is. For the record, this is not a story about outer space. The title has to do with our young protagonist’s astonishment at the concept of a light year: the amount of time it takes light to travel in the time span of one year. He learns that some of the stars we see in the sky are from planets that have died, but because they’re so far away, we still see the light. If you don’t know, a light year is almost six trillion miles. (If you’re interested, but it’s been a long time since science class, here’s a good YouTube video about light distance measurements.) **How Light from Distant Stars Rolls** The story surrounds Cohen, our protagonist, a middle-aged man who works in a local funeral home. As the story opens, something tragic just happened to Cohen’s father. We don’t know if it’s an accident or something more sinister. Cohen begins reflecting back to earlier times, and the man his father used to be. Through flashback segments, we discover how Cohen and his father became the people they are today. After his unconscious father is admitted to the hospital, we hear that the prognosis is not good. Nothing more can be done for him. Although Cohen spends most of his time at his father’s bedside, he begins making daily trips to a church a few blocks away. He has a need to confess his sins - daily. He is shrouded in guilt. Why? I do not want to reveal any more of the plot, but I will say that Smucker did an excellent job of tackling some harsh subjects. This was a very dysfunctional family! **Technically Speaking** I’m at a loss on how to communicate to you just how wonderful this story is. When I first started reading, it seemed good, but not anything special. However, then Smucker turns the key on the emotion generators, and you’re just . . . transfixed, for lack of a better word. One thing that this author does better than most is description. His description is smooth! Here’s an example: “She let go of his hand, not in the way you drop something but in the way a boat drifts from the dock.” Shawn Smucker continually lulls us with his words. He makes it easy for us to feel the emotions. The pacing was right on the money. It’s not fast, but it’s constant. As such, we begin to formulate an opinion on what really happened. When the climax arrives, regardless of whether your opinion was correct, you just feel a sense of peace. I did. I don’t really know why, but it was very profound. My mother passed away about 18 months ago. During the last ten days of her life, I kept vigil by her bedside. I felt many of the same emotions as Cohen did. There was love, there was guilt, there was futility. This story touched me on a very deep level. I can’t recommend it enough.
RuthieJonesTX More than 1 year ago
Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker is more than a tale of a grown man coming to terms with events from his childhood and his rocky relationship with his father, all with a hefty dose of Christianity. Cohen Marah's adolescence consisted of baseball and lying under the pew each Sunday listening to his father's sermon, but a spontaneous decision based on jealousy and confusion sets life-altering changes in motion for both Cohen and his family. The overall story seamlessly flows between Cohen's present at age 40 and his past when his childhood took a heart-wrenching turn. In the present, Cohen confronts his feelings of responsibility for his father's impending death through the sacramental act of reconciliation and through the swirling memories of when his family splintered beyond repair. Shawn Smucker profoundly presents a story that on the surface is about a son remembering his childhood and a far-fetched, mystical memory of  when he meets two children and together they confront an unknown Beast. But on a deeper level, this story reveals universal truths about family, childhood, and relationships. Families are never perfect, parents are fallible, and children sometimes become confused between reality and fantasy as a form of self-preservation. What is this Beast from Cohen's past? While that mystery is eventually revealed, the symbolism of the Beast gives this story an interesting depth. What if the Beast represents the struggle of adolescence and the coming of age in a household that is anything but stable? Or perhaps the Beast represents betrayal and the inability to forgive oneself and others. Maybe the Beast is a stand in for loneliness or sadness when a child must navigate into adulthood alone. Parents who hurt their children are also Beasts. Each reader will see this frightening shadow differently, and that is what makes this novel so fantastic. Light from Distant Stars explores many emotions and often travels down dark and threatening paths, both real and imaginary. Just as the light is forever linked to its distant star, so is our past forever linked to our present as we traverse through life. The hospital is an interesting setting as Cohen and his sister, Kaye, who is pregnant with twins, watch their father's life slowly slip away. Death and life are engaged in a slow and heartbreaking dance here, and the author beautifully presents the two with dignity and wonder, mixed with a little bit of terror. Shawn Smucker's writing is excellent, and he skillfully paints characters, scenes, emotions, and actions with a tantalizing literary brush. His ability to combine drama, horror, and magical realism and still maintain an air of credibility firmly positions him high on the list of authors to follow, to read, and to wait anxiously for that next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a DNF for me, simply because of both the highly descriptive scenes with dead bodies and funeral homes (personally very triggering for me) and the supernatural elements (which I just generally disliked). But can I just say- man, the author knows how to describe stuff. This was a rather dark book which usually doesn't bother me, but...this did, somehow. I didn't really like or relate to the main character. However, Kaye was a character I really appreciated as was Thatcher. It was just going too many places that really just didn't settle with me. Flashbacks were well-done, the writing style, although filled with overload descriptions, was pretty good. Just not the one for me, I guess.
patricialderman More than 1 year ago
This book was instantly addictive. As in… stayed up too late, didn’t want to stop reading, considered sacrificing personal hygiene in order to read… addictive. Shawn Smucker skillfully merges the messiness of adult family dynamics together with the innocence of adolescent thoughts, fears, and dreams. One minute I was reliving the angst of junior high school emotions and the next, appreciating the freedom of growing into my own skin as an adult—all through the eyes of Cohen, a character to whom I could instantly relate. There are underlying themes of forgiveness and grace that had me frequently nodding to no one in particular as I read. I could relive the dreaded sound of the confessional screen sliding open and the satisfaction of feeling comfortable with my place in the world today, all in the span of a few pages. Light from Distant Stars is a great book and I highly recommend it. I received an advanced reader copy of the book from the publisher, and this is my honest review.
FayJac More than 1 year ago
I can't say I really enjoyed this book and I'm not sure why. Maybe because he goes back and forth too much from his childhood to his adulthood and maybe because he likes to include fantasy in it. Some of his writing is eerie and the lines between fantasy and realism are blurred. He recalls many events in his childhood including his parent's separation and the finding of two friends who draw him into danger. In his adulthood, he is dealing with the question of whether or not he killed his father. I think I have read Shawn Smucker's books before and he likes to emphasize the battle between good and evil. He writes an interesting story, but again, I can't say I really enjoyed reading it. (Please Note: Although a copy of this book was sent to me to review by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, the opinions expressed are my own.)
ThatsWhatShesReading More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. This is my thoughtful and honest review. Spanning two timelines, one in the present as a man and the other in the past as a child, we follow Cohen in his journey to figure out what happened to his father. Very early on, it becomes known that Cohen's relationship with his father was strained, and by alternating between the past and present, the author's deft storytelling created not just an unsettling and suspenseful read, but a masterful character study on family dysfunction. Events that occurred during Cohen's childhood shaped the dynamics of this entire family, and in order to somehow cope in such a devastating predicament, an element of magical realism is introduced to help Cohen work through and process his emotions. Because Cohen is reflecting on this period of his life as a now grown man, this becomes not only a beautiful exploration of memory, but also on the idea of whether Cohen himself can be a completely reliable narrator. "He was fourteen and finding things out, fourteen and seeing his father for the first time, or a kind of father he had never known before: a human father, a failing father, a rock-bottom father." Even though it's my job to do so, I can't even begin to do justice to how amazing the author's writing style truly is! This story is so emotionally riveting and incredibly thought provoking. I found it difficult to put down and have thought about it long after I turned the final page. Whatever your relationship with your own parents or whether you are a parent yourself, the story really opens readers up to really looking at the legacy we leave behind. "Cohen wonders how other children and parents go on through their lives, choosing what to forgive, what to ignore, what to become embittered by." For all of his father's failures, Cohen still holds high some very esteemed moments that ultimately provide just enough stability to keep their relationship steady. And yet despite everything, Cohen becomes a father figure along the way to several young boys in desperate need of guidance and a feeling of security. The book is woven with enthralling lines that speak so much truth to the roles, and sometimes the reversals of those roles, that exist between children and their parents. In much the same way as a parable, this story is one that I will definitely return to time and again to learn new spiritual lessons, while also always having those learned previously at the forefront of my contemplation. "Everything he hated stood there in front of him in the form of that darkness, and he sprinted toward it." The use of light as a metaphor for truth was absolutely stunning and so well done! Despite the somber tone, the story is laced throughout with the sense of hope, grace, and redemption that leads to a touching and satisfying feeling of closure for not only Cohen, his father, and their family, but also for the reader as well. Every now and then a book comes along and stamps itself on your heart, and with this story, I found exactly what I needed at this moment in my life as I continue with my own grief from my father's death. If you read nothing else this year, do yourself a favor and read this book.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
Light from Distant Stars is my first introduction to Shawn Smucker's writing. I have not read anything by him before and that will now change. I thought this one was a beautiful story. I was not sure at first what to expect but I was quickly captivated. I did not want to put the book down until I was done. I give Light from Distant Stars five stars. I can not wait to read more by this author in the future. I received this book from the publisher, but was not required to write a review. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.