I received a free copy of To the Stars Through Difficulties for my honest review.
About the Book:
Andrew Carnegie funded fifty-nine public libraries in Kansas in the early 20th century―but it was frontier women who organized waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women’s baseball games to buy books to fill them. Now, a century later, Angelina returns to her father’s hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci and Gayle arrive in town―Traci as an artist-in-residence at the renovated Carnegie Arts Center and Gayle as a refugee whose neighboring town, Prairie Hill, has just been destroyed by a tornado.
The discovery of an old journal inspires the women to create a library and arts center as the first act of rebuilding Prairie Hill after the tornado. As they work together to raise money for the center, Traci reveals her enormous heart, Angelina discovers that problem-solving is more valuable than her PhD, and Gayle demonstrates that courage is not about waiting out a storm but building a future. Full of Kansas history―from pioneer homesteaders to Carrie Nation to orphan trains―To the Stars through Difficulties is a contemporary story of women changing their world, and finding their own voices, powers, and self-esteem in the process.
About the Author:
Romalyn Tilghman is a freelance writer and consultant in arts management. She earned BA and MS degrees from the University of Kansas and has studied writing through UCLA’s Writers Program. To the Stars through Difficulties is her first novel, inspired by her work as Executive Director of the Association of Community Arts Councils of Kansas, and then as Regional Representative for the National Endowment for the Arts. Since then, she has consulted with private foundations, government agencies, and performing arts groups, and served on national boards and panels. She lives in Southern California.
Visit the author’s website
This is a book about history and new beginnings. It tells the stories of the rebirth of a town after a devastating tornado and of different women trying to figure out exactly where they are in life. It’s almost as if the tornado that destroyed the one town pulled the assorted women into the neighboring one. Their are three main storylines; Angelina is writing her dissertation on the Carnegie Libraries and has returned to her father’s hometown to finish after he has died. Traci is an artist from New York who is trying to out run her past and has been hired to be the artist in residence at the art center in New Hope. The art center that is in a converted Carnegie Library. Gayle is from the destroyed town of Prairie Hill. A sister town to New Hope that has been leveled. The residents are still in shock and unsure of whether they will rebuild or not.
Each woman is at a crisis point in her life and in some way running. Each finds a new life but certainly not what they expected when they started on their journey. I will be the first to admit that I have a hard time understanding characters that get to their late thirties and still don’t know what they are doing with their lives. They frustrate me and take a lot of enjoyment out of reading for me. Angelina is just such a character. She waffles along, not really sure of what she is doing, only finishing her dissertation because she is on a deadline.
Traci was also a bit adrift but she is younger. Her life began in difficulty but she just never seemed to grow out of it. Get therapy or something. Gayle is the only character who seems to be dealing with what life threw her in a seemingly appropriate way. What I didn’t seem to figure out in her story is why the townspeople from the two towns were so angry at each other. I don’t know if I missed something or it was just not adequately explained.
This is a book full of twists and turns and varying subplots and romances. I found the information on the Carnegie libraries to be very interesting but overall this was just not a book for me. It wasn’t badly written or poorly plotted, it just didn’t appeal to me. I’ve been trying to spread my reading wings and sometimes I fly and other times I don’t. If you like dramas about women trying to sort out their lives then you will like this book.