Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
Tonight we came together to discuss The Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. Starry River is a book that was published in 2012 and is a companion book to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. The books are in the same world but are not sequential; readers who enjoy one will likely enjoy its companion volume regardless of which one they read first.
The book is filled with Chinese folklore and tells the story of Rendi, a young boy who has run away from home and finds himself in the Village of the Clear Sky. This village used to sit at the foot of a large mountain that reached up to the sky, but a villager and his children decided they would move the mountain rock by rock, and hauling buckets of dirt away … that is one of the many tales contained within the book The Starry River of the Sky. The narrative contains many folktales which help the characters in the book.
The Starry River of the Sky is appropriate for younger readers. It’s definitely not young adult, and middle grade readers may feel they are reading at a more advanced level. As a former Borders employee I characterized it as Independent Reader.
We discussed the unique construction of the book. It is not often you find a book filled with folktales and some of us wondered why the folktales were there. The book does weave these folktales and the story of the village together very well and once you find yourself in the story, definitely after page 70, your confusion may turn into delight as you realize that the author indeed has intentionally woven everything together.
I would like to discuss frogbending, but even that term is a misnomer. Instead, I should like to discuss the exotic and mystical Orient, a land in which the cultural differs from the western perspective we commonly read in literature. Readers of the Starry River may find that themes of balance and harmony are important to the story. The Village of Clear Sky suffers because the disruption of harmony.
We did have a bit of lively conversation regarding snails. The Innkeeper in the village and his neighbor the Widow both have snails which eat their gardens and are unwelcome pests. I am afraid that a minor plot spoiler involves the consumption of these snails and we discussed eating snails. Some of us have had snails before, generally as the French style escargot.
I highly recommend that you read the bound book as it features rich illustrations which may be lost in audio transcription or digital reproduction.
Over all rating: 3.5
“I liked it for all the reasons people said.” – Kevin
“The illustrations were nice.” – Shazia