Author: Rowan Coleman
Published: May 21st 2015 by Ebury Press
Amazon | Amazon UK
Blurb: What if you had just one chance, one letter you could leave behind for the person you love?
What would you write?
Stella Carey has good reason to only work nights at the hospice where she is a nurse. Married to a war veteran who has returned from Afghanistan brutally injured, Stella leaves the house each night as her husband Vincent, locks himself away, unable to sleep due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
During her nights at the hospice, Stella writes letters for her patients containing their final wishes, thoughts and feelings – from how to use a washing machine, to advice on how to be a good parent – and usually she delivers each letter to the recipient he or she has died.
That is until Stella writes one letter that she feels compelled to deliver in time to give her patient one final chance of redemption…
First of all I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Review: I have waited some days after finishing the book to write this review because after reading the letter that ends this story I was quite overwhelmed with feelings. Now that I have had some time to digest everything I can only wonder at the beauty of it. Rowan Coleman has written a stunning book, heart-wrenching yet inspiring and life-affirming.
I love letters. My boyfriend and I spent almost seven years of our nine years relationship living in different places so I used to write him lots of letters, mainly professing my love to him (when I was a teen) but basically talking about everything. So I found the idea of writing a last letter before you leave this world really endearing. Stella, a nurse in a hospice, takes on the task of writing these letters for her patients and we get to read them between chapters. Some of these were so emotional that brought tears to my eyes (in public places, more than once) but there were a lot that were cute and fun, making you picture lives full of laughter, love and sunshine.
But the main stars in the book were Stella herself and her veteran husband, who left a part of him (physical and mental) in Afghanistan, and a 21-year-old patient of the hospice with Cystic Fibrosis, Hope. Stella an ex trauma nurse, took the night shift on the hospice when his husband, Vincent, came back a different man. He spends his nights locked away in his thoughts and regrets and has completely shut out Stella of his life, so they share a roof but not a home. Vincent was such a complex character, thanks to flashbacks, you could read about his old self, fun, lively and completely in love, a picture difficult to conceal with his present self. It broke my heart a little seeing Stella trying to understand and love him and failing. I really had no idea how this story was going to go and end in the book.
Hope, in the other hand, has always lived without really living, afraid that her illness could take her life away in an unexpected way as it almost did when she went partying with her friend Ben some months before. But her stay in the hospice and her new friendships with a young dying patient and with Stella are making her reconsider the way she is living her life. With the help of lovely and fun Ben we see how she flourishes and starts fighting back. I think by the end of the book I was a bit in love with Ben, he was a joy to read about.
Rowan Coleman writes with her heart in her hand. Her characters feel so real that you feel like you are actually seeing them. She only needs a few sentences on a letter to make you picture the whole story and bring tears to your eyes. Prove of her talent. There was not a thing I didn't love in We Are All Made of Stars, a stunning book that respects death and celebrates life.