Saturday, June 25, 2016

There Will be Stars by Billy Coffey

I found this book tough going. I have read other books by Coffey, having come to expect a type of fiction that almost defies being placed in a particular genre. Unlike the others I've read, this one left me wondering what the point was.

The setting is Mattingly, the town we've come to know from other Coffey novels. The time is what is so different. The main characters are people who have (apparently) died. They are in a situation where the last day of their life is every day they live. The main character, for example, is Bobby, a drunk car mechanic. No matter what he does during the day, in the evening he drives up into the hills where he dies in a car crash.

There may be several themes that run through the novel. A group of these (dead/undead) people have come together to form a sort of family. Most of them seem terribly dysfunctional to me, as are the relationships between them. The woman who controls the family, Mamma, convinces them they are in heaven. Bobby doubts it as one of the women was beaten and then killed by her husband and relives that every day. Would that be heaven?

Another theme might be time. One character suggests time is like a river and they are in an eddy. That sounds like an eastern philosophy to me. While time seems to be repeating, people can do different activities each day and seem to remember their previous actions. We learn what brought each of these people to their death and those stories may contain some lessons. There is also some thought that we might have the ability create our own future, or that we do create our own present reality.

For me, this book just did not “work.” When I reached the end, I wondered what the point of it all was. I could not really identify the moral of the story. I was not really entertained. I was not struck by well crafted sentences or amazing characters. I found the dialog, particularly the uneducated southern language, irritating. I also think the book is about a hundred pages longer than it needs to be.

I wouldn't call this a “Christian” book. There is talk of heaven and hell but there is nothing about saving faith. I am not even sure there is anything redeeming about the book. It there is, I missed it. Some may like this style of fiction but I don't.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Billy Coffey is a regular contributor to a number of publications. He and his wife have two children and live in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. You can find out more at

Thomas Nelson, 416 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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