Rating: 5 / 5
You ever read a book and you think that everyone in the world must read it too? The Promise of Stardust is that book for me. Matt and Elle Beaulieu have known each other forever, literally since the day Elle was born. A tragic accident has all but left Elle brain-dead, and knowing the struggle Elle had watching her mother slowly succumb to cancer, Matt knows Elle would not want to be on artificial life support. He is ready to let her die with dignity, until he finds out that she is 8 week pregnant. Now the question becomes whether to take her off life support, or keep her alive, despite her past miscarriages and inability to bring a fetus to term?
Matt is sure that Elle would have wanted to be kept alive, to be given a final chance to bring a child into the world. But others think differently. His own mother, a nurse, thought of Elle as her own daughter, and witnessed first hand the struggle Elle had with her mother’s battle with cancer. As the fetus is only weeks old, and Elle has an autoimmune disease that has led to miscarriages in the past, she does not feel that the fetus has a chance of survival, and what Matt is doing to Elle is demeaning and unjustified.
Sibley’s debut novel poses a lot of tough questions and delves into heavy themes: the right to live, the right to die, familial responsibility & boundaries, and the viability and rights of a fetus. It is apparent within the first few pages of the story that Elle will never recover. The head injury she sustained from the fall has left her with her without cognitive or sensory abilities. Although for the most part I knew how it would end, that didn’t stop me wanting to read the book.
Sibley’s writing is evocative, emotional, and poetic. The characters, although flawed, are still endearing and very well developed. For such controversial and polarizing topics, Sibley manages to humanize both sides, and although I am squarely in one camp, I empathize and have a better understanding of my opposition. It takes a talented writer to present both sides unequivocally yet passionately. I also loved how Sibley switched between the present and the past. The backstory of all the characters was important and the way Sibley laid it out was pretty much flawless. The Promise of Stardust is beautifully written, and no matter where someone stands on the issue of right to live versus right to die, this book is a must read.