The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

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Matt Beaulieu and Elle McClure were deeply in love with one another and trying desperately to have a baby when she had an accident that put her on life support. Her wish was to be laid to rest, not to be kept alive on machines if there was no hope of recovery, and Matt was ready to follow her wishes…Until he learned that within his wife’s broken body was a baby, holding on for life-and he is ready to fight with all that he has for that baby’s life. But the legal system has never seen this kind of case before, and his wife’s legal paperwork regarding the issue means that suddenly a great many political issues are coming into play.

Pro-Lifers are lined up in front of the hospital, protesting the pulling of Elle’s life support while she carries an unborn child, Pro-Choicers are claiming that using Elle’s body against her legal wishes, to keep the baby alive, is wrong. A media circus hovers around Matt, and all he wants is to do what he knows Elle would want-keep the baby alive no matter what it takes.

Keep the tissue nearby if you want to brave this novel, which delves into places that most of us would prefer not to think about…Long, drawn out deaths, how we remember our loved ones and how we would want to be remembered after we died, and the horror of a world that can try to tell  you to pull the plug on your wife and unborn child because of a legal form.

Readers who enjoyed What You Wish For, by Kerry Reichs, which addressed the controversial topic of parenting and the politics of test tube babies and non-traditional approaches to having children, will likely find The Promise of Stardust, by Priscille Sibley, equally riveting. This reviewer went through half a box of tissues, however, so you’ve been warned!

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

Patience Murphy is a midwife in Appalachia during the Depression, in a time when the Ku Klux Klan was showing it’s ugly face, and when the local doctor refuses to help colored women in labor. She lives to help others, but she lives in fear-Patience has her own ugly secrets-a dark past that hangs over her and could ruin her life if her secret got out.

This is a novel about unlikely relationships that become lifelong friendships, the pain of loss, the healing powers of love and compassion, and the heart that comes out when people have nothing else to give. The hardship of the area and the times will bring tears to your eyes as you read this novel and imagine what it might have been like to try and make, then raise, a family during a time of intense poverty when medicine was not advanced, or simply unavailable to the lower classes. Desperate times bring forth some very productive change, and the lessons learned by this kind, stubborn midwife as she travels her path, helping the birthing women of Appalachia and learning that love has no cost and no color.

This novel is NOT for anyone who is squeamish about childbirth related topics. The births are quite graphic and the description in the entire novel is breathtaking-which means that if you can’t talk  about placenta or umbilical cords you should probably leave this one alone. If you like to read novels that step outside the box, The Midwife of Hope River , by Patricia Harman, is one of the most eloquently written pieces of women’s fiction on shelves today.