Book Reviews

Book Review: The Star That Always Stays

by Anna Rose Johnson

cover and synopsis from Goodreads

When bright and spirited Norvia moves from the country to the city, she has to live by one new rule: Never let anyone know you’re Ojibwe.

Growing up on Beaver Island, Grand-pere told Norvia stories–stories about her ancestor Migizi, about Biboonke-o-nini the Wintermaker, about the Crane Clan and the Reindeer Clan. He sang her songs in the old language, and her grandmothers taught her to make story quilts and maple candy. On the island, Norvia was proud of her Ojibwe heritage.

Things are different in the city. Here, Norvia’s mother forces her to pretend she’s not Native at all–even to Mr. Ward, Ma’s new husband, and to Vernon, Norvia’s irritating new stepbrother. In fact, there are a lot of changes in the city: ten-cent movies, gleaming soda shops, speedy automobiles, ninth grade. It’s dizzying for a girl who grew up on the forested shores of Lake Michigan.

Despite the move, the upheaval, and the looming threat of world war, Norvia and her siblings–all five of them–are determined to make 1914 their best year ever. Norvia is certain that her future–both professionally and socially–depends upon it… and upon her discretion.

But how can she have the best year ever if she has to hide who she truly is?


The Star That Always Stays is a heartwarming coming-of-age story.

You can’t help but fall in love with Anna Rose’s characters. The Nelson siblings’ dynamics were great. Dicta had me smiling each time she introduced herself. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if Dicta got a book of her own someday–she was such a fun character!

Norvia’s arc of finding her voice and adjusting to the changes of life was very well written and was easy to connect to. Anna Rose did a nice job portraying the struggles of adapting to life in a blended family, juggling high school and friendships, and just growing up in general.

While the writing style is different from Anne of Green Gables (one of TSTAS’s pitched comp titles), the heart and style of the story are the same. I do think that fans of Anne will enjoy The Star That Always Stays.

I also love how Anna Rose wrote TSTAS off of her own family’s history. It’s such a cool idea and adds an extra layer to the story.

The Star That Always Stays is a wonderful debut from Anna Rose, and I look forward to reading more by her in the future.

Cautions: light romance

*The Star That Always Stays releases July 12th, and you can preorder it now! I received an ARC from Edelweiss. All thoughts are entirely my own.*

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