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Shake Down the Stars

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  264 ratings  ·  69 reviews
When you’re in trouble, and sinking fast, who do you call?

Piper Nelson is stuck. She can’t quite stay away from the husband she divorced. She isn’t always attentive to the high school students she teaches. And even she admits that she’s been drinking too much and seeking out unsuitable men. Piper’s mother, married to a celebrity evangelist, and her sister, immersed in pla
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by NAL
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  264 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very funny, extremely entertaining. I love that Swindle showcased Oakland's economic and cultural diversity. This would make a great book club pick because it embraces very serious themes (grief, alcoholism, growing pains, religion), but will also make you laugh out loud and is written in a style that makes it hard for the reader to turn away (finished this one in under 48 hours). I'd love to see this hit the big screen as a rom-com.

Can't wait to read more from Renee Swindle.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-book, kindle
Some tough topics addressed here.
Samantha March
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of Shake Down the Stars by Renee Swindle in exchange for an honest review.

Whew, this book is quite the read! When I first started reading I didn’t realize how deep and intense Piper’s journey would be. Losing her daughter in a car accident has clearly scarred her, her divorce from her husband took an emotional toll, and not being able to connect with her mother and sister really impacts her life. We see Piper turn to alcohol and men to fill the void, and the story only becomes
Jill Yesko
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After finishing Shake Down the Stars, Renee Swindle’s new novel featuring a troubled heroine named Piper who exorcises her demons by guzzling scotch out of the bottle and observing the cosmos through high powered telescopes, I felt well shaken and emotionally stirred. In spite of the novel’s opening scene—a reality TV worthy engagement party for Piper’s terminally self-absorbed stepsister—Shake Down the Stars is about as far from chick lit as Mercury is from Jupiter. Shake Down the Stars is lig ...more
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was so fortunate to receive an advance copy of SHAKE DOWN THE STARS by Renee Swindle. I won't synopsize the book (you need to read it for yourself), but this is a book that had me, literally, by the first page. And by page three, I knew I'd read it in one weekend. The characters are real and engaging. The settings are vivid. The problems are intense. The solutions are sometimes surprising, in that good "I wish I'd thought of that" kind of way. The writing is lovely, and reading it is effortles ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Extremely touching and funny. Loved it.
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Easy read. She's an alcoholic with a dysfunctional family to match. A suspended ending but could lead to a follow-up book?
Lydia Laceby
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-must-read

Originally reviewed at Novel Escapes.

Shake Down the Stars was a much heavier read than I anticipated, but I LOVED this novel because I love an emotional read. Piper is a real character. She’s flawed. Scratch that, she’s more than flawed; she has serious issues, including swigging scotch straight from the bottle and drowning herself not only in alcohol but one night stands. Her struggle to overcome her demons, particularly the grief and guilt she feels after daughter’s death, makes for an absorbi
David Dacosta
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Borderline alcoholic and promiscuous without discrimination, Piper Nelson’s troubles seem to be compounding by the day. Five years after losing her four year old daughter Hailey in a car accident she blames herself for, Piper’s life began an immediate downward spiral, beginning with the dissolving of her marriage. Although on good terms after both the death of their daughter and eventual divorce, Piper and her ex-husband Spencer maintain a grief-induced post marital arrangement that prevents eit ...more
Nov 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Piper's life is falling apart a few years after her daughter's death. She's divorced and an alcoholic. Her family relationships are dysfunctional, she can't stay away from her ex-husband, and she doesn't seem to have any friends. "Shake Down the Stars" is the story of hitting rock bottom, finding help, and picking up the pieces.

This was a quick read that I couldn't put down, but I did have some issues with the character development. Piper's sister Margot was quite a caricature of a spoiled self-
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Well this book was a pleasant surprise for me. I won it on a FirstReads giveaway and was pleased to see it had such a high rating. I was on the fence on whether to give it 3 or 4 stars, it's closer to 4.
At first this book was too easy to put down, difficult to relate to some of the characters. Once into it I had no idea that the book was going to get into such deep issues. The book had a lot of depth with Piper and all her struggles. I found myself tearing up a few times when she talked about th
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying I am a SUCKER for stories where hurt people admit the source of their pain and then make the journey toward healing. If you enjoy these kinds of stories, "Shake Down the Stars" is perfect for you. In the beginning it was a little hard for me to get into the story because I thought I didn't like Piper (the main character). But what I discovered was that I didn't like her behavior and her behavior was a result of pain. Piper has a mother that neglected her as a child and suf ...more
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
This was an unexpectedly emotional read! I almost put this book down after the first chapter, because I strongly disliked the main character and I thought this was going to be a light book full of girls getting drunk and sleeping around. Instead, it was a heart-wrenching story about a mother falling to rock bottom after the death of her young daughter, dealing with divorce and a dysfunctional family, and then pulling herself up from the bottom and making a new life for herself. While I cried sev ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved this book.

It really brought across the creep of alcoholism and how it's possible to use your life as an excuse to get there.

The characters were vivid and so often I felt a rage towards the people that the main character had around her.

Having the book interspersed with the main character's love of astronomy was brilliant. It was like learning there's a museum in the sky. I had a similar experiences learning to dive this summer.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It manages to be funny, deep, heartbreaking and hopeful--a rare feat. Piper Nelson, the main character, is a flawed individual (who can't relate to that?) and her journey in "Shake Down the Stars" is surprising, fast-paced and highly entertaining. I highly recommend this book!
Tracie Momie
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-top-50-books
I really, really liked this one! So many themes running through this book but for me, it boiled down to the main character Piper Nelson...after her daughter dies she's just wandering around aimlessly with a growing alcohol addiction but she ends up meeting some amazing people who help her overcome her demons. One of my favorite lines was when her friend told her to stop waiting on other people to be nice to you and start being nice to yourself! Also, I went star gazing after reading Piper's poet ...more
Toni Tighe
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Raw and refreshingly honest. While it was an easy read, the subject matter was anything but. As I read, I laughed at times and was uncomfortable at others. The author did a great job in detailing the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, siblings, exes, and new friendships. This story is about the highs and lows and the long journey to healing after a devastating tragedy.
Allie Larkin
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Stunningly beautiful and full of heart. Piper Nelson is a complex, unforgettable​ character. Shake Down the Stars is one of my favorite books.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
At the beginning of the book I wasn’t sure I would like it, but the author slowly but surely draws you in to the heart of the characters.
Jen Smith
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For a book that made me ugly cry every other chapter... I loved it.
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shake Down The Stars is a poignant and moving story about a woman who is struggling with the traumatic loss of her daughter, dysfunctional family drama, alcohol addiction and promiscuity. It is the story of a woman's journey to healing and rebuilding her life through the help of friendship and love.

Author Renee Swindle weaves an emotional tale of love, loss and redemption set in Oakland, California, and written in the first person narrative that follows the journey of Piper Nelson as her journey
Jenn Ravey
It’s been five years since Piper Nelson’s daughter died, but she’s coping worse than ever. Her mother and sister are so absorbed in the sister’s celebrity wedding, they don’t have time to notice Piper’s pain. Her ex husband has moved on, and the loss seems to sever her last connection to her daughter, adding to her sorrow.

Her job as a high school teacher suffers as Piper begins drinking more and more to stave off the pain. And like many addicts, she’s hurt too many people by the time she reaches
Michele Berger
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
It’s been a long time since I have stayed up two nights in a row completely absorbed in a novel. I started Shake Down The Stars and couldn’t put it down. Piper Nelson, the main character has a host of problems. She drinks too much, has a narcissistic sister who is married to a pro- football player (and rap star), a self-righteous religious mother and a depressed husband. Piper gets angry, goes on drinking binges, blacks out, and makes many bad choices. Death haunts her and she also stalks it by ...more
Chelsey Wolford
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book caused me to feel a lot heavier emotions that I was planning from the start. Piper is our troubled heroine, who is going through a divorce and is far from the normal divorcee that we often think about when reading books like this one. Hear me when I tell you that this book will take you places and make you feel things that you did not expect at all! Piper is a troubled soul and at first I questioned her character and if I would even grow to like her. However, when I also took into cons ...more
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shake Down the Stars by Renee Swindle
Grade: B

“When are you going to stop looking to other people to be kind to you and you be kind to you?”

Piper Nelson’s life has been a mess ever since her five year old daughter died in a car accident while Piper was driving. Piper has spent the last five years in the bottom of a scotch bottle, wine bottle or whatever type of bottle she can get her hands on. She can’t leave her ex-husband alone, sleeps with whomever is around and if failing as a teacher. Piper
Nicole Bonia
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Swindle has written a deeply moving story that encompasses discordant parent/child relationships (even when the child is now an adult), sibling bonds and rivalries, and the strength to be found in dealing with your losses and rebuilding your life. There were a lot of things that I really adored about Shake Down the Stars. Early on in the novel, Piper makes a new friend so ridiculous as to almost be a caricature of lame and off-putting, but who has surprising depth, and is someone she needs to ha ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, 2013
Totally blown away by this book. Definitely the best book I've read this year, hands down!

For some reason I was expecting it to be much more "chick-lit", but it was so much more than that. This story had so much depth to it, so much truth, that at times I was just in awe of the author.

A few things;

First of all, I love that the main characters were not WASPy, because it seems most books have white main characters going through major life changes and never anyone of color. I love that it wasn't e
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Source: ARC sent by author for review

It has been five years since Piper's four year old daughter was killed in a car accident. Her family, which aren't all that functional themselves, are worried about her drinking, her relationship with her ex-husband and her dalliances with random men. When she finally hits rock bottom, Piper realizes she needs to get help and live a life that her daughter would be proud of. She has to learn to deal with her sister and mother, the guilt she feels about her dau
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
***** This is a First Reads, Thank You Goodreads *****

Piper Nelson has found herself on this side of bad - experience a tragedy, get a divorce, become the black sheep. Just when she thought things couldn't get worse, her half sister gets engaged to a football star and goes onto a reality show, her ex husband dumps her (yes, unhealthy, but, that's Piper) for a younger woman and gets her pregnant, and just maybe she might lose her job because of her alcohol problem.
Sometimes you think you are at y
Nikki Barrett
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Where do I even begin? Wow!

This story took me on a journey I didn't expect. This story is as real and raw as they come. You want to talk about characters that feel real? Yeah, right here in this story. As I did, if you read Shake Down the Stars, you might hate, love, want to throttle, cheer for, cry for and so many other emotions for Piper. VERY well done on the characterization. There's no sugar coating here. What you see is what you get, and that's what I absolutely loved about this novel. It
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Renee Swindle is the author of A Pinch Of Ooh La La, Shake Down The Stars, and Please Please Please. She lives in Oakland, CA.

Twitter: @renee_swindle



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