Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Same Bright Stars

The Same Bright Stars by Ethan Joella
7/2/24; 304 pages


The Same Bright Stars by Ethan Joella is a very highly recommended feel-good literary domestic drama following Jack Schmidt and his family's beachfront restaurant, Schmidts, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. This one hits all the right notes and tugs on every heart string.

Jack, 52, spends all his time, every day, running the family restaurant. Ever since he took over after the death of his father, the demands of Schmidts always come first, before relationships or leisure time. He is the third generation to run the restaurant. Now he has before him a generous offer from the DelDine group to buy Schmidts. The corporation has been buying up restaurants along the coast. The stress the holidays put any restaurant under makes Thanksgiving a natural time to seriously consider the DelDine offer. They claim they will continue to employ his staff and honor his family's legacy, but can he trust them? And is it too late for Jack to make a life for himself apart from the restaurant?

The Same Bright Stars shines as a character driven drama and character study focused around Jack. Jack's life, struggles, family, compassion, and loses are all perfectly portrayed. He is a wonderful, fully realized, sympathetic character, as are the supporting cast of characters. They all come to life.  Jack also has regrets from his past and desires a relationship but feels like it's perhaps too late for him.

While following the present day drama, the narrative also includes excerpts from a guidebook describing Rehoboth Beach and chapters flashing back into events from the past. Joella does an exceptional job realistically describing restaurant work. (I respect mentioning Crocs. Seriously, Crocs for work are a huge thing and this is a wonderful, realistic addition to the story.) The people who work for Jack are like family and many have a long-time relationship with him.

The Same Bright Stars is such an incredible, eloquent story of legacy, family, loss, and love. Joella handles the well-written narrative with his deft touch showing compassion and empathy for his characters and their struggles. Once you start reading you will not be able to set this novel down and it will leave an emotional impact on you. Thanks to Scribner for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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