Cover Image: Digging Stars

Digging Stars

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Member Reviews

3.75

This is a short novel that tackles a lot of really interesting themes and is told almost memoir style. We first meet Athandwa as a child and we learn about her father who has moved to the U.S. leaving her and her mother in Zimbabwe. Then we jump forward to her in her twenties. Her father has died and she has been admitted to The Program. I know this is a literary work and intended to tackle themes not worldbuilding but I found myself constantly wanting to know more about The Program and the projects the students are working on, and the world that exists here.

Thematically, I liked the discussion on colonialism (both on earth and in space), being Black in America vs Zimbabwe, the symbiotic relationship between militarism and capitalism, and so much more.

I think I would have gotten more out of it if it had been a book club book, but I did enjoy this and am interested in checking out other works by this author. In the meantime, I’ll be nominating this for my next book club.

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I was excited for this one, but unfortunately, I found it to be a mess. The synopsis is very compelling (what is Indigenous astrology, I was looking forward to learning about it). However, the pace of this novel refused any kind of deep interrogation of any of its themes. Shifting from childhood trauma to a kind of boarding school drama to a left-field portrait of mental illness, this book had too much on its mind. I wish Tshuma had pulled back a bit, or perhaps I would have liked the novel if it was longer. Great ideas cannot save this messy novel.

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Unfortunately, this title disappeared from my bookshelf before I'd actually finished it. However, I was more than 75% finished, so feel like I can give an overall review of the book.

I thought the story was creative and original. I loved the rhetoric. Her descriptive passages all included lunar, or scientific, or star-related vocabulary which made them unique and appropriate. These portions also came across very lyrical.

I loved the narrator's voice. Her tone is mellifluous and lulling, but not to the point of making you sleepy. Just enough to pull you into the narrative and make you feel like she was telling you, and you alone, the story.

I like the main character, but her relationships were all very surface-level - I just kept wanting more, so the other characters weren't that interesting. I really awnted to like Peralte!

I appreciated the weaving together of the history, the racism - overt and subverted, the descriptions of places I previously knew nothing about. But, again, it was all little nuggets and no deep-dives. I rarely think a book is too short, but that might be the case in this one.

I'm slightly curious to find out the mysteries behind the Program and Mr. C, and vaguely curious about her relationship with Peralte... but not enough to run out and get the book. Eventually, I probably will, but for now. I'm glad I enjoyed what I read and don't feel at all like I'm missing out by not finishing the story... and that probably says a lot.

Thank you to NetGalley and High Bridge Audio for the ALC in exchange for my honest opinions.

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I wasn't able to finish this book. The writing was beautiful -- individual sentences were meticulously detailed and highly crafted -- bordering on poetic -- but the pace was extremely slow and I felt lied to because what was supposed to be (I thought) a book about people passionate about science had less than no science in it. I say less than because at least as far as I read all the science was depicted in the way people with no scientific ability or interest write about science -- full of the mystery of the cosmos blah blah blah. And a strong theme of recognizing key contributions from Muslim astronomers from the past while concurrently belittling Euclid due to his "straight lines" which is what allowed British colonizers to redraw boundaries that weren't theirs to begin with. Our narrator's father was pushing his Bantu geometries as something key to scientific discovery that was never explained in the book except that nobody would publish his paper which was so unfair. The whole book appears to be full of bitterness against all the oppressors -- both current and past -- wherein the oppressor / oppressed categories are applied to broad groups using carefully curated experiences to pull everyone along on the right side. I really dislike this kind of narrative which is particularly damaging as we watch what is happening in the middle east!

At any rate, the writing is good, though slightly overwrought for my taste; the characters are well-drawn and with a lot of focus on relationships in depth, but there is no science whatsoever and the book is way too political without the kind of neutral political depth that would actually allow the reader to learn something. The audio book reader was excellent with good pacing and accents. I give the book three stars because it is a well crafted book -- I just really disliked the content.

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A beautiful story about growing up, being an immigrant, and loving the stars told in a way that feels more like a memoir than a novel (which is a compliment, not a slight). The characters all felt very real and their feelings/experiences felt more authentic due to the story being told this way. I wish there'd been a bit more about stars/the science aspect but I figured out early on that it would be more about life on Earth rather than her love of space, I accepted it and went along for the ride.

The narration was also very well done. The first-person sections were done with an appropriate accent and, when other characters spoke, the narrator was able to effortlessly swing back and forth to differentiate.

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