2 out of 4 stars
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Stars in the Sea: Stories of Hope, Happiness, and Helping Hands by Jeanne Taylor McClellan is a non-fiction, inspirational book about how small actions can significantly impact our lives. The author uses sea stars, also known as starfish, as the basis for her message. Walking on the beach one day, the author witnessed a young girl returning beached sea stars to the ocean. When asked about her actions, the girl said that although she cannot help all of the beached sea stars, she can at least make a difference in the lives of those she is able to return to the sea. This scenario forms the backbone of the author’s message which is shared throughout the rest of the book. The book begins with three short introductory chapters explaining the theme and continues with seventeen very short anecdotes relating back to the initial theme.
At approximately 100 pages, this book is relatively short and can easily be read in one sitting. The conciseness of the stories included in the book ended up being both the highlight of the collection as well as its biggest downfall. On the plus side, the author adequately relates each short story (many of which are no longer than one or two pages) back to the overarching theme of the sea stars. None of the stories described in the book felt out of place or lacking in connection to the author’s main points.
Moreover, a couple of the stories were really enjoyable to read and succeeded in creating an emotional bond in a surprisingly short amount of text. For instance, one story describing a woman’s last cab ride to a hospice and the wonderful experience the cab driver provides her, proved to be both poetic and tactful in its conciseness. Another two part story about a woman’s unconventional relationship with her sort-of adopted son also packed a surprising punch.
However, the majority of the other stories were significantly less impactful, and many came across as preachy or too obvious. The stilted length of the stories did not leave much room for character or situational development, making it difficult to become invested in the basic stories described. Further, the author consistently interjected short phrases within each story about how the anecdote connected back to the sea stars. Although interesting at first, this quickly became a tedious and redundant gimmick that felt like the author did not think readers could connect the dots between the stories and the overarching themes on their own.
Overall, this book was a quick and easy read that included some inspiring stories but which felt mostly forgettable. The obvious writing and less successful stories make this a book I would not return to for inspiration. However, there were two stories that really stood out to me, and I enjoyed the overarching theme of the sea stars. For those reasons, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I recommend this for readers looking for quick, obvious inspiration conveyed in a unique format.
Stars in the Sea
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