Jo Fletcher Books | 2019 (24 January) | 486p | Review copy | Buy the book
It is the 1960s – America and Russia are at loggerheads, on Earth and in space as they compete to land on the Moon first. But then one day the Meteor crashlands into the small New England town of Amber Grove. To onlookers, it’s a disaster of fire and devastation. To those in the know, it’s one of the most important events ever to happen. A spaceship has crashed, an alien child has survived, terribly ill. Doctors and nurses do everything they can to keep the boy alive and among them is Molly, a woman who has recently lost her own baby and, with her husband Gene, has so much love to give to a child that needs it very, very much.
Molly and Gene will have to risk everything to give the boy they name Cory a life and a home. Everyone wants Cory. In a time of Cold War, Cory’s knowledge and strange abilities could tip the balance in either direction. Then, as Woodstock happens and Americans land on the Moon, it becomes frighteningly clear that there may be more to the Meteor wreckage than people might have first thought. And Cory is the key to that knowledge, a very valuable and vulnerable key.
When Our Child of the Stars turned up unexpectedly, I couldn’t resist it and read it immediately. The fact that its cover is so beautiful was a further temptation. The premise is irresistible and the setting in the 60s is so appealing. But nothing prepared me for the emotional impact of what is a thoroughly enchanting, engrossing and gorgeous novel. I’m a bit stuck for words, to be honest, so this isn’t an easy review to write! I would just urge you all to read this book, even if you’ve never read a science fiction novel in your life!
Our Child of the Stars is beautifully written and perfectly set in this version of the past. The prose dances, it’s full of the joy of life, no matter the grim realities of the Cold War world in which it’s set. But it is also set in a time that craved peace and love, that sent man to the Moon, and, although not everything is as we know it, so it is also a time of hope. Cory represents something that is well worth saving.
The triumph of this novel, though, is Cory himself. This young boy with such a strange appearance, with curious alien skills, is utterly adorable, lovingly described. The trauma he’s undergone hasn’t crushed his spirit. It’s there beneath the surface, sometimes escaping and becoming grief and terror, but his overwhelming capacity is for love. He loves this new world around him and his childlike enthusiasm is infectious. Cory is so endearing. He is a saviour for Molly and Gene’s marriage. Everyone who gets to know Cory loves him. And this all adds to the anxiety and tension of those sections of the book when Cory is threatened by the bad men who would carry him off. And yet, even though Cory is the star, it’s impossible not to care deeply for Molly and Gene as well. These people have been through so much together and, thanks to Cory, they are reborn. They are courageous, selfless and full of love.
This glorious, enchanting novel spellbound me. I’ve not read anything like it before. Its portrayal of a young alien child, embraced by a human couple with so much love to give, in the paranoid, moon-reaching world of 1969, is all-powerful and astonishing. It’s also an exciting adventure. There are hints about other planets, other aliens, that give me hope that Stephen Cox will return us to this world, reunite us with Cory once more. Our Child of the Stars is a very special novel indeed and, even though it’s just January, this is a clear favourite for my book of the year.