The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
★★★★★ | 2019 release
Okay, but all joking aside, this book was wonderful. Well-written, existential, and so so deeply human.
So, @KaylaAncrum so kindly offered me an arc of The Weight of the Stars literally months ago, and my reading slump sort of destroyed my reading plans (oops), but. It. Was. Worth. The. Wait. The last twenty pages are singlehandedly my favorite thing I’ve read this year.
Here, we’re essentially following three lead characters:
➽Ryann Bird, trying to raise her brother James and James’ adopted child Charlie. She really likes rescuing people
➽Alexandria McCallough, black & biracial, the daughter of an astronaut sent to die in space
➽Ahmed Bateman, Ryann’s best friend and the child of Jack, August, and Riya
This actually took longer to grow on me than The Wicker King,as it’s definitely just a little more slow burn, but I ended up binge reading it. Kayla Ancrum is so good at getting you invested in characters in very brief moments. Ryann and Alexandria fall in love and the romance is just… can we talk about tenderness? I’d like to talk about tenderness.
What’s interesting here is that the book sort of starts off as a contemporary romance, and then dives into being sci-fi, but its tone works because the focus stays deeply humanistic. We know these characters and we care about these characters, and so the story becomes one about the people involved in these great space missions, rather than the great space missions themselves. It’s a story about the great void of space, but it’s really a story about two girls with seperate trauma falling in love; these things can coexist because that is how our world works, as broad conflict merged with small interpersonal griefs.
The ending is… amazing, and the mixed-media element of the last ten pages or so (you’ll know if you’ve read it) is stunning, and made me tear up. The final two pages honestly tore me into a million pieces in a good way. I don’t think I can actually explain why, but the last pages made me feel such a deep connection to the world as it is, to the point where I started crying choking sobs.
There’s a little decision in here, the decision to have Jack and August and Rina as loving parents who still have their issues but are Good and Healthy people, that is just so wonderful and so revolutionary, on multiple levels. These are characters who we’ve seen go through some really dark shit and now we’re seeing them on page as really good parents and that’s so important. And I think that’s what ultimately makes this book and The Wicker King so special – there’s this fundamental sense of hope to everything in this world. both of these books go dark, but still constantly position love and human connection as guiding forces, and winning forces.