4,5 to 5 stars
And that’s how I fell in love with Debra Anastasia’s stories for the second time in my life…
When I read Poughkeepsie years ago, I fell in love with that story where the gentle hero reminded me so much or Archer (Archer’s Voice) with his sweet and quiet soul. The love story was perfect and it left a lasting impression.
Drowning in stars was a real treat. It was like my own Madeleine de Proust. Reminding me how Debra Anastasia knows how to write about sweet heroes that are no less male and fierce protective female characters.
She writes with nuances and soft touches that speaks to my soul and move me every time. There is a timelessness in this story. This is sad and sweet, hard and soft, moving and heart lifting at the same time.
We get to follow Pixie Rae when she is twelve, living in a town nearly on her own as her mom is working three jobs to make ends meet. Pixie was such a competent mini adult, managing the books, paying the bills. She knew everyone in her neighborhood and was fierce with her baseball bat!
When she meets Gaze he is living in the building in front of her own, same level. He’s just arrived with his father and she’ll take him under her protective wing.
Gaze was small and scrawny at twelve. We’ll soon learn that his father is a drunk and beating him.
Debra succeeded in describing the sweet memories of kids used to being poor but living the best summer of their lives while becoming best friends forever.
“The mist from the hydrant combined with the angle of the declining sun tossed a rainbow-colored halo above her head. I felt it in my toes. I felt it in a part of my mind that knew my name. Pixie Rae was part of me. I was in love with her. She tugged on my hands to pull me into the full spray and I followed. I was twelve. I would have followed her anywhere.”
But the sweet was intermingled with the sour when we got to witness the hard beating Gaze got from his father. That’s where the author really gave us the harsh reality of beaten kids, their conditioning to expect the worse. And my heart broke for Gaze when he found his salvation…
“Will Mike hit us before the cookies?” In the silence that followed my question, the late night crickets took over. “No, man. They don’t hit us. They just love us here.”
I swear I was bawling like a baby while walking in the street!
But Debra didn’t stop at that.
She reminded us that we sometimes have to endure to protect ourselves, to protect others. In saving Gaze, Pixie will condemn herself…
And that part was so HARD!!!!
On the one hand I am extremely grateful that Debra spared me the details as I would never have been able to read them in this story.
On the other hand, I wanted to do just what Debra is writing in her author’s notes:
“There were plenty of times I bit my tongue. It hurt to write you biting yours, when all I wanted to do was save you. But, you had to show me and everyone else who takes a risk on this book that there is an after or can be an after. A beautiful, forever after that you deserve.”
That story was full of emotions and filled with gorgeous characters. I have a soft spot for the incredible Austin and would love reading a story about him one day.
This is close to perfect and I would recommend that book a thousand times if you are not afraid of heavy topics and want emotionally charged love stories with unforgettable characters.
Have you read Debra’s books? What did you think of it?
Thanks for reading