Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: A Sky without Stars

A Sky without Stars
By Linda S. Clare
Quilts of Love Series
Abingdon, 2014


In 1951, Frankie Chasing Bear is a Lakota caught between cultures. She wants to raise her son Harold to revere his Lakota heritage, but she knows he will need to become as a white man to succeed. After his father's killed in a barroom brawl, Harold and Frankie move to Arizona, where she begins a Lakota Star pattern quilt for Harold with tribal wisdom sung, sewn and prayed into it.

She distrusts Christians, as her own parents were forced to convert at an Indian School, until she meets BIA agent Nick Parker, a half-Lakota who's also caught between cultures. Nick must convince Frankie that white men and Christians aren't all bad as he tries to win her heart in order to put the stars back into her sky.

My thoughts

Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings - and the Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family history. This series is one of my favorites, and Linda S. Clare's A Sky without Stars is a welcome addition.

I have always found the American Indian culture and beliefs interesting, and Linda vividly portrays the 1951 Phoenix, Arizona setting and the struggles that many Native Americans must have faced as they tried to fit into a white man's world while holding on to their heritage. The story seemed very realistic in its portrayal of Indian customs, prejudice, and the difficulty of "having feet planted in two different worlds."

Frankie and Nick are interesting characters - flawed yet sympathetic, both dealing with difficult situations in their past- but I think the storyline was stronger than the romantic thread between them. I liked the passion they shared of improving education for Indian children in a way that didn't "strip away all that made them Indians."

"Sew love into every stitch and remember:
a bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars."
- Grandmother

Frankie's memories of her grandmother and the Lakota Star quilt played a big part in my enjoyment of this story. Although it depicted stories once told around tribal fires, Grandmother had also been adamant that the quilt should reflect faith in God. In Frankie's words . . . "Grandmother taught me the bright yellow Lakota star stands for the circles of eagle feathers, the rays of the sun. . . . The star is also the star of Bethlehem. The star the three magi followed to Christ's birthplace." Frankie also wanted to make sure her son, Harold, knew who he was, and as her grandmother said, "soon the quilt might be all that was left of what we once were."

Quilts are just one of several ways treasured memories are passed from loved ones through the generations, mine being a quilt and a handwritten collection of recipes.  Those who enjoy quilt or Native American themes will enjoy A Sky without Stars and I'm glad I was able to read it. Recommended.

Linda S. Clare

        Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She is also the author of The Fence My Father Built.
        She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia.

Meet Linda online at, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google+. Learn more at Litfuse's Blog Tour post.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Frankie sewed on a treadle Singer.

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