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Light from Distant Stars

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  562 ratings  ·  286 reviews
When Cohen Marah steps over the body of his dead father on a cold spring morning, he steps into a labyrinth of memory. In the week that follows, he must confront his traumatic past, a violent present, and the most frightening question of all-did he kill his father?
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Fleming H. Revell Company
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Shawn Smucker No, it's not. My first two novels, The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, were YA, but this is a standalone book for adults.

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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  562 ratings  ·  286 reviews

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Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shout out to for sending me this book!

Light From Distant Stars is my first Shawn Smucker novel. I had never even heard of him before I saw this book. And truthfully I didn't know what this book was about when requested it. I just thought the cover was beautiful in an understated way. And just like the cover the story itself was beautiful in an understated way as well.

Light From Distant Stars is a story that feels no need to rush, instead the author just let's it slowly unfurl. I hav
Susie Finkbeiner
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been looking forward to reading this novel for quite some time. It did not disappoint. Smucker is a magician of a storyteller, mesmerizing his readers into completely suspending their disbelief and going along for the ride. But this isn't just a magical story or one that keeps the reader guessing. It's a beautiful tale about family, redemption, and grace.

One that I look forward to reading again!
Danielle Urban
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker is sad heartbreaking story. The main character is struggling with his emotions as nightmares from his past come to haunt him. Did he kill father? The son, Cohen Marah had a tough childhood. Expectations were rough. He had to behave a certain way. His mother was strict in his up raising. It felt like he was all alone. Neither of his parents smiled much. Then, they divorced. And that left Cohen feeling heavier with emotion. It swallowed me up, as I followe ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shawn Smucker did not disappoint once again - this is the fourth book of his I’ve read and I can easily see why he’s been called a “master story weaver.” The real-to-life questions of faith and disbelief, the blurred lines between adult realities and childhood fantasies, and the themes of mystery/suspense/scandal/forgiveness are all woven together to make this book a page turner you can’t put down.
Leah Horton
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The very first reason I wanted to read this book was the cover and the title. I absolutely judged this book by its cover. It was so stunning and eye catching I didn’t even care what it was about. It was so much more than I expected. A story of love and loss, woven into two parallel times in Cohens life. This book touches on the struggles Cohen has within himself, his relationships with his parents, his faith, his past and the loss of his father. I thought the depiction of life and death coexisti ...more
Andrea Stoeckel
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[TW- child abuse, violence]

“Father, are there things that cannot be forgiven?”

This is the story of Cohen Marah;beginnings and endings. Cohen finds his badly hurt father in the basement of the funeral home they both work at, and Cohen must come to grips with a past riddled with holes as he feels he is spinning out of control. In a series of flashbacks we see his attempts to understand if he was his father’s killer.

I spent an intense 5 hours reading this book today. This is how Shawn Smucker’s boo
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had to chew on this for a few days. The book was surprising in parts, dark in some, and full of light in others. It brings up memories and issues in my own life that I'm not sure I want to deal with yet! :)
There is a blur in this book between memories, reality and imagination that leaves me wanting to read more. I'm not ready for these characters to be over so I hope the author carries their stories to another book!
Catherine McNiel
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The third book I read after my concussion. I couldn't put it down.
Nicole T.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A master storyteller, Smucker manages to pull you into an engaging adventure while communicating deeper truths through the story. Light from Distant Stars flashes back and forth from past to present seamlessly, revealing depth in the character and plot that keeps you coming back for more. It's the kind of book that will have you holding your breath, shedding a tear, and reading late into the night to finish. But don't rush to the exciting ending too quickly. Savor the story. You'll be pondering ...more
Rick Theule
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shawn kept me on edge and ready to turn the page for the revelation of the next piece of the puzzle. A great story that is more than simply an entertaining read. I found myself contemplating my own relationships with my dad, God, family members, and close friends. I received this novel as part of the launch team. I’ve already recommended it to friends, and will definitely keep it on the shelf to read again soon.
Chris Jager
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cohen is wrestling with his childhood memories as he stand by his father's hospital bed. As he travels those memories and more from his childhood, he begins to wonder if his father's approaching death is his own fault.
Smucker offers us a understanding of a relationship between father and son. It is not a relationship that is without its pitfalls, but one that each person must negotiate. Raw at times and loving at other times, Light from Distant Stars is not always an easy read, but it is one th
Sara Gorman
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read any other books by Shawn Smucker, but after reading this one, I want to read them all.
I found this book to be very engaging, hard to put down, and had well-developed characters that I wanted to see the success of.

I received an ARC from the Publisher.
Deanne Patterson
Light From Distant Stars is my introduction to this authors work.
I would call it emotional and edgy. Definitely not my usual type of read.

This is a sad book making you question at times what is real and what is not.
Stepping over the body of his father triggers emotional questions about his past. A flood of memories ensues. What of these suppressed memories are actually real and what is not?

Thought provoking story on the struggle of a
father- son relationship in the past and present.

Published Jul
Amy Nabors
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“He stares down at the body again, and sadness keeps him leaning to one side. It’s the physical weight of emotion and that weight is not centered inside of him but skewed, imbalanced.”

This second paragraph of Light from Distant Stars hooked me. I think most of us would agree that we all have experiences from our past that the emotions of them can render us skewed and imbalanced. A story isn’t near as impactful unless the author drawsus into the character’s story and make us feel such empathy fo
Ingrid Lochamire
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to be brutally honest with this review, though you'll note I gave the book 5 stars. It took me a minute to settle into Smucker's story. Readers will find themselves moving back and forth between the protagonist's memories from the past and his current circumstances/problems. I've read many books employing this technique, but for some reason, it was difficult for me to get into the rhythm here. But, once I did get on track, I couldn't put this book down. Smucker's choice to trust the re ...more
Chris Gilmore
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shawn Smucker is an incredible storyteller.

I typically do not read fiction, but having read Smucker's memoir on his friendship with a refugee I was excited to try his next offering. I was not disappointed.

The characters are deep without being overly complicated. The storytelling is vivid. The plot is unique and carries itself well. The intrigue keeps you hooked. I read the entire thing in just two sittings, staying up way too late two nights in a row to finish and discover what had happened.

Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a powerful story of love and forgiveness, as Cohen grapples with forgotten memories and a difficult childhood. The author expertly weaves two stories together, the present, where Cohen's father is dying, and the past with painful memories that he has suppressed. It is a suspenseful, beautifully written book that will keep you enthralled to the very end. I did receive an ARC of this book from the publisher.
Allen Madding
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was provided an Advance Reader Copy by the author. Here is my honest review: A thought provoking story on the relationship struggles of a father and son. I couldn't lay it down. Highly recommended.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A masterfully told story!

Light from Distant Stars is an amazing and masterfully told story! There are so many layers and so much mystery. It tells of the journey for the understanding and for the peace which has eluded Cohen for decades. Assaulted by feelings of guilt, he explores memories long buried.

The writing is beautiful in a melancholy way; prose turned to poetry. The imagery created by the words is haunting and poignant and was not overdone or tiresome. I found myself caught between wanti
Jaklyn Larsen
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the first page to the last, Light From Distant Stars is captivating. The story eloquently flows between current predicaments to the nostalgic, albeit painful, childhood memories of the main character. The author has an incredible ability to paint vivid imagery, making you feel every moment along with the characters in the book, yet the story-line is never bogged down by unnecessary details. Some books are easy to leave behind after reading, others I find myself wanting to ponder for days af ...more
Jocelyn Green
I knew early in this book that it would be unlike anything I've read before. The writing is unhurried, deliberate, beautiful. It hints at Marilynnne Robinson and John Steinbeck, while still being Shawn Smucker's very own narrative voice and style. The story spans about a week of actual time, but tucked into the action are pieces of the main character's history which shed led on the present-day situation. It's not written as a time-slip or split-time though, it's just blended together into one se ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my first book by Shawn Smucker, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. While I didn’t dislike the book, it took a bit to get me hooked into it. The story moved at a decent pace. It just took a little bit to get into the back and forth of the past and present. Once I got into the book, I couldn’t stop. I just had to find out what had happened. I did enjoy this book and plan on trying his other books.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive revi
Dorothy Greco
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I remained on the elliptical longer than usual the day the book arrived because I just couldn't stop reading. During the next three days, I found excuses to drop what I was doing and read (for pleasure) during the day which is somewhat scandalous for me. As I finished the final chapter, I immediately wanted to go back and reread it. It's that good. Definitely a book to take on vacation this summer. It's compelling, beautifully written, and ultimately redemptive.
Anne Bogel
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm so excited about Shawn's first novel geared toward adults!

The story begins with a death: a son discovers the body of his father, he's filled with guilt and fear, he doesn't want to tell his sister he was the first one to know. But why? As the memories come pouring back over the ensuing days, the reader begins to find out what went on in this troubled family.

Highly recommended for Billy Coffey fans.
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has all the workings of a powerful novel - characters you care about because their emotions and experiences feel real, a storyline that is relatable while also speaking of things beyond what we discuss in our every day, and a depth of emotion that is powerful and rich. I cannot recommend this book enough.

I received an ARC of this book, but this is my honest opinion of the book.
Timothy Shea
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Sometimes people don't have the power to be what we need them to be for us." (p. 376)

Family secrets. Unattainable love. Forgiveness and reconciliation. Memories and the ways they shape us.

These are the themes that permeate this dark and sometimes confusing tale of a young man who comes to terms with parents who have disappointed him while grappling with his faith and his own anger.

Smucker's prose is rich with vivid description that makes the reader feel as if they are experiencing the story the
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my first book by Shawn and I will be reading more of his books. This particular book took me a little while to get into it but once I did it was something I could not wait to pick up again. It is a story of Cohen’s past and present life. It gives you an insight of how tries to handle it and come to to terms with these issues.

I am giving a voluntary review because I was asked to read this book by the author.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author writes brilliantly, keeping you turning to the next chapter, a page turner!! Enjoyed his writing style and the story! A wonderful story about redemption and working through difficult memories from his past.
Marian Beaman
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: have-read
Shawn Smucker’s latest novel Light from Distant Stars (2019) is challenging to classify – Listed under the category suspense fiction, it is also allegorical in its representation of otherworldly characters, the Beast, for example–and the stars, both celestial and spiritual. The book is surely suspenseful, planting clues such as a monogrammed sock, a brandished gun, a burnt out trailer. The writer’s sleight of hand begs the reader to ask, “What just happened? Who should I believe? Are experiences ...more
Karrilee Aggett
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher and this is my honest review.

I had started reading Once We Were Strangers, also written by this author, before joining the launch team for Light from Distant Stars, so I already knew I would enjoy the book. I had been saying for months that I needed to add more fiction to my reading list so this was perfect timing! I had picked up a different novel last month (written by a different author) and it was alright --but nothing I cou
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