Thank you to Allie McHugh at Penguin Random House for sharing an advance reader copy of Starlight in exchange for an honest review. I had been patiently waiting to learn more about Frank Starlight and understand what had happened after Medicine Walk ended.
The late Richard Wagamese is one of my most favourite authors! Canada has lost an amazing story teller, one who shared his own struggles and whose characters portray the generational devastation from residential schools, the sixties scoop and government assimilation policies. His beautiful prose leads to learning, acceptance and understanding while highlighting the importance of healing, forgiveness and the ability to start fresh.
Sadly, Richard Wagamese passed away in the midst of writing Starlight. This novel is the sequel to Medicine Walk and is another book that all Canadians should read (along with mention Indian Horse and Ragged Company)! I love that the publisher has stayed true to his words, publishing the story as he wrote it and not creating an ending on his behalf. The story may have ended before the reader was ready, but I appreciate the publishers note at the end, explaining what his family and friends had understood about his plans to end the book. This was authentic and respectful of this amazing storyteller who left the world too soon.
Starlight continues the tale of Frank Starlight. He remains on the farm, working the land and supporting a friend. Sadly, the old man had passed away but he had left a legacy through his quiet love, teachings and the land which he left to Frank. Life changed dramatically when he offered shelter to a woman named Emmy and her daughter who had escaped a violent relationship.
Through Frank’s calm demeanour and his love of the land, he helps the pair rebuild their confidence and happiness. He shares his art of nature photography and slowly they learn to trust each other despite Emmy’s worry of her past coming back to haunt her.
After finishing the story, I was left wanting more. Many times, I felt like I wanted to pick up the book and continue with these characters that I had grown to respect and appreciate. Wagamese’s art was not only telling a story but building amazing characters that seemed real and stayed with the reader after the books were closed.
I am so sorry that this is the last works of the great Richard Wagamese and hope that he is at peace knowing that his stories are making a difference. Through fiction, he is helping change the narrative of Canada as readers become allies by learning more about the terrible mistakes of the past and learn to support the work towards reconciliation.