Stars of Alabama

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

The kind of descriptive writing you'd expect from Sean of the South. He did his homework too, as this novel takes place during the Great Depression. The novel weaves in and out of various character's lives. It's amazing seeing the ways they connect.
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The author allows readers to get emotionally invested in three groups of people. First up is Paul and his friend Vern, as their bloodhound helps them find a baby crying in the woods, then there is Marigold who is fifteen, living alone in the woods abandoned by her family after the birth of her child, last up is a preacher traveling across the plains holding tent meetings. As I read, I wondered if these characters would ever meet and if so, how it would take place. They didn’t live near each other. But all of them had the spirit to survive and help others along the way.

This story weaves a tale of people facing unthinkable, horrific situations during the Great Depression. The people have endured great loss. Their drama and struggle will tug at your heart strings as these flawed believable characters face life’s gritty challenges in an honest, soul searching, hopeful way. Each seeks to do their best to stick to their values, see the good in others, themselves and God.  

Time passes quickly in this story that starts in the dust bowl, then moves to the depression and then a few chapters go by and the author mentions WWII. I enjoyed the relationship between Paul and Vern. It was an endearing, unlikely friendship. These guys helped others with what little they had. They gave the richest gift anyone could receive that of genuine love (not asking anything in return) and then there was precious laughter. The motto going around the land at the time was “Fear Everyone. Trust No One.” There were desperate people doing desperate unthinkable things. and there were those who learned to live, survive and thrive the best they could. It’s an amazing look at this time period. It’s a hard gritty read I was compelled to finish. The author tactfully deals with incest, child abuse, drifters, and church revivals gone haywire. 

It’s funny some people look back at these times and think they a simpler, gentler, kinder place. This author does an incredible job of allowing the reader to walk in these larger than live characters shoes for a little while. There is nothing simpler about it. This is a heartbreaking yet hopeful read that would work great for your next book club pick. This is the first book I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. Sean Dietrich is a well-known columnist, pod-caster, speaker, and is known for his commentary on life in the American South.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Catalogue front page www.bookfun.org
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I really enjoyed this book to the fullest.
The time period is especially meaningful to me because my grandparents lived through this time.  I can't recall them mentioning it to me but if both were born in 1918 then I know they did. It just wasn't talked about much.
This is my first ever Seen Dietrich book. I love trying new authors and this one didn't disappoint except it ended too fast because I was up all night reading it. I didn't want to come back to the real world! 
There wasn't anything that I didn't like about it. He did a fine job with this story.
I enjoyed making friends with Paul and his mixed up family.
I couldn't imagine living with dust all around me all the time. I have asthma so I know it would be hard. 
How different today's world is compared to 1932. People aren't so generous anymore and that is sad. 
I think the people of yesteryear would be horrified how much the world has changed.
How badly we need revival today!! God has been taken out of everything!!  I think if we had that today people would be so much better off. 
This story has left my heart feeling full and blessed. I will be watching out for more from this author!
I strongly recommend this book
My thanks to Netgalley for a complimentary copy. NO compensations were received and all opinions are my own.
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4 ☆ Stars of Alabama is set during the Great Depression-era leading up to WWll. It follows three colorful main characters each with separate stories. A homeless mother in search of her missing baby, a child prodigy searching for a loving and trusting family, and a tent revival preacher with a baseball past.. with all three coming together in surprising ways. Sean Dietrich has written a heartfelt story of friendship, love of family that isn’t always blood, and finding hope through the darkest of times. It’s a wonderful feel-good southern story that will make you smile! 

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrich

I loved so many things about this book!  The setting allowed me to learn about an unfamiliar time in our nation’s history.  The characters were quirky and multi-layered.  The plot kept me reading to determine how the three story lines were going to converge.  And his use of the supernatural was ironic.  The author also handled gritty subjects gracefully and appropriately.

I enjoyed reading about a time period in American history that I knew little about—the dust bowl and into World War 2 on the home front.  The author captured the hardships that families experienced and gave me an appreciation for that part of our history.

I fell in love with the characters and was sorry to see the book end.  I felt as if I had watched them grow up over a period of years and knew them like family members.  They were very well-written and realistic.     
I couldn’t anticipate how the plot threads would come together, but it was very satisfying when they did!  Of course the author knew how to use suspense to keep my interest.  The ending was one that made me sigh contentedly.

I thought his inclusion of the supernatural was interesting—especially set against the backdrop of charlatan preachers and in contrast with the house of prostitutes. This book reminded me a bit of Billy Coffey’s books, which also contain some supernatural elements.

This story contained examples of incest, murder, racism, poverty, death, and religious chicanery.  However, the author handled it in a tactful way and always laced a thread of hope through the darkest situation.

I highly recommend this book.  Southern fiction fans will find much to enjoy.  I intend to read more of Sean Dietrich’s books.  I am grateful to the publisher for the free copy of this book in exchange for this, my honest review.
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I unfortunately did not connecting with this story and ended up DNFing it at about 30%.  I just couldn't get into it.
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This was my first time reading a book by Sean Dietrich, and it was a very good read.
I loved that the story was told through the lenses of so many different characters and points of view. I wish that the book had expounded more on the relationship between Vern and Ruth's relationship since he was the one that wanted to keep her, but I do appreciate the author for not trying to tell his full story, especially during those times.
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Sean Dietrich, sporting a rich beard and a southern drawl, is a storyteller. He spins his narratives, filled with humor and compassion, of the world, and especially the South, as he sees it through columns, podcasts, speeches and novels. His latest novel, “Stars of Alabama,” has the same feel of authenticity that Dietrich fans so enjoy.
 
This time, Dietrich takes us back in time to the Depression years to show the struggles, and especially the strengths, which helped strangers come together and survive the times in rural Alabama. Due to the author’s skilled craftsmanship, the characters come to life, and readers feel for each and every one, cheering for the good guys and booing for the bad.
 
We’re first introduced to Paul Foldger, known for breeding and training hunting dogs, and his gentle friend, Vern. They’re scraping out a living doing odd jobs. No family or ties, except for Paul’s dog. It’s not an easy life, but it’s maintainable. At least it was until Vern finds an abandoned baby in the wood.
 
Despite Paul’s objections, and efforts to find the momma, the two men taking to raising the infant girl as best they can.
 
Flip to another chapter and we learn the baby was left in the woods while her young momma tried to steal food for them. Marigold, faint with hunger, was kept overnight in jail, and when she returned to her campsite, the baby was gone.
 
Then we read about Coot, a 14-year-old boy forced to participate in traveling revivals, performing as a miracle-working child preacher helping a crooked preacher trick the audience out of meager offerings. The old cheat beats Coot when he doesn’t bring in enough cash.
 
After introducing to the main cast and revealing their back stories, Dietrich begins in intertwine their lives, showing us how one action leads to another. Their paths, though varied and often littered by both past and present, are destined to converge at some point as sure as the stars shine and the sun rises. And along the way, there are more folks who wander in and out of the story, leaving their own marks in myriad ways on the main cast.
 
“Stars of Alabama” is a gentle story about rough times. Dietrich draws out his character’s lives simply without tricks or twists. He relies on the characters, their surroundings and descriptions to bring readers into their life and times. Struggles are plenty, but the will to succeed, to live, never dims.
 
Violence and sex are downplayed, replaced by the feelings and emotions of the characters. Despite the circumstances, they aim to make the best of their situations, often finding reassurance in the stars that shine brightly in the Alabama skies.
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This book has an unusual storyline, and the characters are also unique.  This is a well-written story and flows beautifully. . Sean Dietrich is definitely a talented author.

But this story just was not for me.  That’s not the fault of the author, as I should have read a book description a little more closely.  I imagine, though, that many will love this story. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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Set in the South during the Great Depression, three families entine together in a heartwarming, inspirational tale. This is a lovely read. Beautifully written. The characters were all unique and well crafted along with the descriptive setting that draws you in.
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I would first like to thank Net Galley, the publisher and author for the ARC. This was my first time reading anything by this author so I had no expectations. I was curious as so many are avid fans. I enjoyed the setting, Alabama during the great depression. The tale revolves around a 15 year old pregnant girl who gets thrown out of her house after the baby is born. Slowly we are introduced to a motley group of characters. Just as slowly the tale just dragged on for  me. It would have been easy to put the book down but I wanted to give the author a chance. While I enjoyed the story for the most part there were some elements that I felt detracted from the greater enjoyment. Primarily the story was told by multi9ple characters in way too many short, choppy chapters making continuity difficult. Some parts were just too good to be true and it all ended a bit too predictably and neat for me.
3.5
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This book follows several characters throughout the south during the Great Depression.  Marigold, along and pregnant, leaves her baby in the woods while she searches for food.  She is arrested, spends the night and jail and is near delirious from hunger when released.  When she is finally able to return to the woods, her baby is missing.  Paul and Vern, migrant workers, following screams into the woods where they find a baby with violet eyes.  Despite putting an ad in the local paper, no one comes forth to claim her.  Coot, a child preacher in the revival circuit, runs away after stealing thousands of dollars from his father, and the leader of the revival.  Years pass, Marigold discovers that she has a talent for healing.  Paul and Vern pick up a family abandoned by the road.  Coot falls in with a tramp and struggles with the morality of a con-artist life.

I had some issues with the book.  The characters seemed very stereotypical and weak.  The women in particular seemed off - they were either Madonna's or Magdalene's, which is pretty frustrating.  Everything came together in the end in a pretty predictable way.  Overall, not a book I would re-read or recommend.
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Excellent Read! At fifteen and pregnant Marigold is forced out on her own. She leaves her baby in the forest to go find food, when she returns the baby is gone. The two men who found the baby along with a woman give the baby a home. There are several parts in this story that weave together in the end. I'm an avid fan of southern fiction and this left cracks in my heart. The magic of the south bleeds on every page. 
Dawnny-BookGypsy

 

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Sean Dietrich should be declared a National or, at the very least, a Southern treasure. He captures a time and place with such detail I felt like I had been transported back in time to a simpler but certainly not gentler world. For those of you who think the worries of our world are too much to handle, imagine the Great Depression with no safety net. Think of a time when life was so insular that tent revivals provided one of the few hopes you had for a better life. Then consider the men and women, boys and girls that Dietrich fashions for us, folks with little education or money but enormous hearts. This story will make your heart grow too. If you read and enjoyed Where the Heart Is, about the baby born at Walmart, you will love this story about decent people succeeded through luck, faith and love.
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**I received a complimentary copy for consideration. All thoughts are 100% my own. 

To be entirely honest, I'm not quite sure that Stars of Alabama was quite what I expected before I started reading... but what I got was so much better. It was truly one of the best novels I've read lately....and believe me, I've read a lot of them! 

From the very start, I was transported through time and place to Alabama in the time of the Great Depression. Clearly, this is neither a time nor a place that I know of personally, but through his beautifully imagery and fantastic southern dialog, I felt as though I was there--- seeing and hearing it all perfectly. To me that ability to picture it all is truly the sign of a great story teller and Sean Dietrich certainly is that! 

In Stars of Alabama, we follow the story of three quite different groups of characters. From the start, we can see how two of these stories are intertwined though they hadn't exactly met. I assumed that they would all cross paths at some point in the story, and in the meantime, I found myself rooting for each of these characters and wondering how their story would work out. The book was broken into short chapters (100 total to give you a better idea), which jumped back and forth from each group of characters. Normally, when a story jumps back and forth too often I find that it can be distracting and hard to follow, but personally I did not find that to be true for this one. The author did such a great job at establishing these characters that I found it was pretty easy to jump back and forth. I will say the time jumps (two separate ones) threw me a bit at first and I had to readjust my thinking to establish ages and such, but in the end I actually enjoyed getting to see these characters grow up and felt that that really added to the impact of the story. 

I was a little surprised at the supernatural aspect of the story, just because I wasn't quite expecting it... but while it was an important part of the story, it wasn't the sole focus. I personally enjoy these more mystical stories anyway, but I don't feel like it's overwhelming to a point where others who might not still couldn't enjoy the story as well. More than anything, it truly was a story about the people- with the families and unlikely friendships along the way. Overall, it was a great read and one I would certainly recommend.
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Star of Alabama is one of those books that reads like a hot summer afternoon in the deep south, slow, easy going and so good.  You will find yourself completely lost in the storylines as they each take their own path.  You will find yourself wondering how they will all work together and yet when they do you know that it is exactly the correct way.  A perfect read for readers of Charles Martin or Richard Paul Evans.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

A motley cast of well-written characters have commonalities that are linked together in the conclusion.   I loved the book and cheered for the families that developed lovingly through need.
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I really wanted to like this novel but I just didn't. The content was just too difficult for me with the incest and abuse among other content. These were dealt with respectfully but they're just not subjects I prefer in books. In addition the fantastical elements aren't really my preference. This book reminded me of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances and would be a good recommendation for those that enjoyed that novel but aren't as sensitive to these trigger issues.
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I found myself fully engaged with each of this story's three story lines and the unique, memorable characters whose stories were unfolding. I could feel the stories converging, but it was never obvious as to how they would finally intersect. As the characters traveled from the dust bowl of Kansas to the Gulf shores of Alabama, through the depression, a war, and peacetime, their stories drew ever closer. Stories of hard times, people who matter, putting aside the past, and creating a future; stories of right and wrong, and opportunities lost and found held my attention as if it were grasped in the author's hand. 

The feelings generated as I read Stars of Alabama were reminiscent of those I had while reading The Secret Life of Bees and The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I would recommend this book to anyone who was touched by those. It is a book that will haunt your memory for years to come. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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I really wanted to like this book, but the page and a half chapters that broke with each character perspective ultimately made this way too choppy and hard to connect with the characters. 

This book takes place in Alabama during the Great Depression. I find this time period very interesting and jumped at the chance to read it based on the description. I think the writing is good and I might have had an easier time connecting if it wasn't for the above, but it also dragged for me. It took forever to get going and the few things I liked about it weren't enough to make me continue. I dreaded picking it up each time and nothing really made me that invested. 

Ultimately, there are many other reviews out there that are highly positive so if this book sounds interesting to you, I would pick it up.

Thank you to Netgalley, Thomas Nelson and Sean Dietrich for the opportunity to read this and provide an honest review.

Review Date: 7/14/19
Publication Date: 7/9/19
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