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Drowning in Stars

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… he walked a tightrope five stories up just to hold my hand.

Gaze: I moved into the building next to Pixie when I was eleven. She blew bubbles through my window. I shot my Nerf gun through hers. We both had secrets, but one of us was fated to get hurt. I wanted it to be me.

Pixie: When I was afraid of the dark, he would shine a light in my window. We shared our popsicles and I taught him how to get a good swing on the playground. I never imagined I’d have to decide who got to live and who didn’t. I chose him --and he could never know.

She walked a tightrope five stories up just to save my life…

★☆★ Drowning in Stars is a full 100k standalone. ★☆★

359 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 9, 2020

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About the author

Debra Anastasia

37 books3,751 followers
I’m just a girl, standing here, falling in love with my best friend’s older brother.

Totally kidding. I’ve always been in love with Austin Burathon.

Effortlessly cool. Wears nail polish. Flirts with everyone. When he rescues me in the middle of the night, I see a side of his life that I never knew about.

I thought he had what I didn’t.

Perfect homelife. Supportive parents. And he does, but he’s fighting a war in his apartment.

Austin’s ex-boyfriend, Endgame, takes gaslighting seriously and thinks it defines love. Plus, he’s refusing to move out.

Endgame wears pink when he plans on breaking Austin’s heart – and he does it often!

He may wear pink, but he has me seeing red.

I’m going to protect Austin, any way I can. I’ll do it over and over again, even if it means risking my own heart.


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5 stars
1,901 (49%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 647 reviews
Profile Image for Drey.
167 reviews771 followers
April 10, 2021
3.5 Stars!

... True love exactly looks like this.

This was almost an epic read for me. It started off solid, but, unfortunately, the author failed to consistently manage the emotions in the story. I couldn't put it down, but when I reached around 60% mark, I wasn't able to fully connect with the main characters and I started to question everything that was happening. But, but, and so many buts before you plan to remove this one on your tbr list, let me explain first why you shouldn't.

Note: This is a coming-of-age, friends to lovers romance.

Gaze and Pixie first met when they were 12 years old and instantly became inseparable. They both went through hard times but they had each other to rely on and sought comfort to. Until one day, when Pixie was forced to make a decision that would change their lives forever.

"Gaze got a future or I got one. I picked Gaze."

This was an emotionally tragic book that was so beautifully written. I could picture every moment so clearly and detailedly from the day they met, the day they stole a ramp, the days they played ball in front the window of their apartments, the day they went to Poughkeepsie, the days Pixie defended Gaze from bullies using a bat, and to the day when Gaze was tore apart from Pixie. Everything in the first half was absolutely perfect for me.

"... Right now? I’m choosing you. You’re first. From now until the end of time. Or whenever you’re done with me. I’m yours.”

The second half of the story, however, wasn't able to hold my interest. It became easy and simple, and there were things that I felt like wasn't given much explanations. How those things happened and why did it happen were my main concerns. I once thought if it was just me who noticed those stuffs, but, thankfully, some reviews that I looked at supports my opinions.

Also, I felt like the author was tiptoeing around Pixie's issue. We witnessed every horrible detail of the hero's abuse, but why we weren't provided any of the heroine's side? I needed to create a mental picture of everything she went through and the trauma it caused her in order for me to be able to connect with her sufferings and fully understand her situation. I didn't need clues here and there that wasn't that much convincing.

I don't and won't discourage y'all to read this book. I truly liked it, adored it, and enjoyed it. To those out there who loves a story that focuses about childhood friends and believes in the strength of genuine friendship, loyalty, and family should give this one a definite chance. Gaze and Pixie both found a home in each other's arms. A home is where a person's heart belongs. My heart belongs to these characters for probably a long time.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a powerful and important story that acknowledges one of the most-happened issues all around the world.

A septillion thank you to Veronica for bringing this story to my attention. I owe you a big one, my friend!

I recommend this to those who likes: Debra Anastasia, friends to lovers, slow burn, dark, second chance, taboo, emotional read, and a happily ever after.

"I found a family for Pixie and me. And she had found the part of herself that she had sacrificed to keep me alive."

Trigger Warning: Vivid depiction of abuse.

Profile Image for Mali Mor ❤️ The Romantic Blogger.
415 reviews497 followers
August 10, 2020

3.5 STARS.

If this book was a person, I would like to hug it tightly. 😭❤

Pixie and Gaze met on her 12th birthday, when Pixie blew baubles from her window into his bed room - and that is how a strong and brave friendship started between the two little neighbors. ❤

📚 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐆𝐚𝐳𝐞. 𝐇𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚 𝐛𝐮𝐛𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐠𝐮𝐧 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲. 📚

They were two broken 12-year-olds who found solace in each other. They don't live in the best area of the city and their living conditions are not amazing: Pixie's mother works three jobs and is barely home, and Gaze's father is a drunk, violent and vicious man... but despite the difficulties and loneliness, Gaze and Pixie have each other, and that's enough. 😍
She's afraid of the dark and his window is always open for her... and he's the new kid in the neighborhood she welcomes with open arms and protects from the bullies.

But after the summer vacation ends and they start school - they face a big crisis, one that changes their lives forever. 💔😭

📚 “𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐞. 𝐈 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮.” 📚

This is a heartbreaking, moving and sweet YA book. It does not have a lot of sexual scenes, but it's definitely not suitable for teens. The first half of the book describes their childhood and the second half is after they matured (a little) more, and in high school. 😱⭐

I loved Pixie's character so much! Usually, the girl is the one who needs someone to save her, but it was the other way around - as a child, Pixie was taller than a Gaze and she was the one who "saved him". She is a true warrior, always seeking for justice, full of compassion and feisty... It hurt me to see what happened to her and how she changed as she grew up. 💔💔💔

📚 𝐒𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐛𝐞 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐨. 𝐈 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐨 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐈 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥. 📚

But ... there were parts I did not like:
I love love stories that start from childhood - but here, it felt too much. I wanted them more "mature". Their story as 12-year-olds was too long for a romance book for me... but when they finally grew up - everything happened too fast, so I felt there were important things missing along the way (like the connection between them, which simply "was", not "built" as I expected).
Also, there were quite a few parts that I didn't understand. For example: Pixie's mother behavior... the policeman, who is supposedly care for her, but did not even try to ask her what she went through... The technical ease of the solution - is it seriously so easy to move as a minor? and get an approval from a social worker?? And Ashlin - how does it end with her...?? 😬😬😬

📚 “𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐦𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮.” 📚

Yet, I enjoyed the book and read it in one sitting - I even shed a few tears (especially when Gaze read the notes in the coffee can).
I think this book had a lot of potential, but it was missing something to make it perfect... However, I highly recommend it for anyone who likes love stories that start from childhood. ❤


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Profile Image for Christy.
3,709 reviews31.6k followers
August 10, 2020
4.25 stars

“I’ve always only wanted to save you.”

It has been so long since I’ve read a Debra Anastasia book and I’m so happy I picked this up! This book gave me all the feels and I loved it. Pixie and Gaze were such strong characters and I adored them both.

Pixie and Gaze become neighbors when they were kids and became the best of friends. Pixie was the only good thing in Gaze’s life, and Gaze was one of the best things about Pixie’s. Due to circumstances out of their control, they were separated for a few years and Pixie was left behind, more alone than ever.

Eventually, Gaze came back to his Pixie, more determined than ever to make her life better and be to her what she was to him all those years ago. Gaze was the sweetest and most protective guy to Pixie. My heart broke for so much of what they went through but I was grateful they had each other. I loved Pixie and Gaze, and I really truly loved Gaze’s brother, Austin. He was such a fantastic addition to this story.

This book had many gut wrenching moments that had me in tears. But it also had moments that made me smile. By the end, I was a happy reader. Anastasia’s writing is fantastic and this had the best kinds of emotions. It wasn’t always an easy read, it was definitely heavy, but I loved it.
Profile Image for Shabby  -BookBistroBlog.
1,400 reviews736 followers
August 9, 2020
Beautifully penned, colored with tender strokes of freshly blooming love, it's a part coming-of-age, part finding a soulmate story that took me by surprise in its simple dewiness. A broken ramp linking two windows forms a bridge of sorts between Two teens- Pixie Rae & Gaze Jones, sharing the similar life, living situations and future filled with bleakness. They've built their nest five stories above the squalid, dangerous neighborhood they are forced to inhabit.
"mostly, we were safe. Sort of like we were in a den of rattlesnakes that were hibernating."


Holding on to the threads of companionship and friendship to hang on to their dear lives. It's the perfect escape bubble of coffee can notes, a stubborn pigeon "Fat Asshole" and to escape the heat and stink of their poverty, they run around in broken hydrant showers and filthy riversides, forgetting their penury in shared pizzas and melting creamsciles.


Page one had me stunned splat. I could feel the dangerous undertones, could sense the impending doom, the inevitable slap of fate which was just sound the corner
The sheer courage and fiestiness of Pixie was both refreshing and heartening. They take turns playing the savior and in doing so strengthen their bonds. They grow closer as they grow and nothing, not even distance can tear them apart


I loved the hopes and small blessings, like Sam, Mike, Ronna and the best of all character- Austin. He's a Fairy Godmother incarnate, complete with lace and makeup.
Theres sweetness and there's bitterness in teh same breath. Dark clouds loom over Pixie and Gaze but Debra gives everyone of them a silver lining
I enjoyed it immensely. Hope she gives Austin his own book ❤️
4.5 stars for Families of Heart
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Profile Image for ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰ .
2,120 reviews1,175 followers
September 8, 2022
description description description description description

Pixie and Gaze.

They met on her 12th birthday. They're neighbors. Their bedroom windows are across an alley from each other. They don't live in the best neighborhood. Her mom is working three jobs and his dad is a mean drunk. But Gaze and Pixie have each other. They're enjoying life. Summer will soon be over and school will start. Exciting things and adventures are coming.

But the happily ever after makers are not yet ready for those two...

What will happen to Pixie & Gaze?
Will there be a HEA?



I was so scared to start reading this. The blurb was way too scary/sad/heartbreaking/vague for my tastes. But I just had to read this book!

First of all - beautiful cover!

And I loved Gaze and Pixie. They are so adorable and sweet and innocent and it's all so heartbreaking and sad and hard - the way they have to grow up. Ugh. I wanted to jump into the book and adopt them or something.

I loved how Pixie knows everything and everyone in the neighborhood. Poor Gaze would've been lost without her in the beginning! Adorable!

For the first half of the book we see how those two 12 year olds try to survive everyday life.

And then, fast forward a bit, after we kinda barely suvived our early teenage years, we meet again. But their story... it's only just beginning.

Ugh! I just loved this book.

I can't really say much more than that. I don't want to spoil anything. I want to say so much. I want to tell you ALL THE THINGS!!!

It was a beautiful love story.

A beautiful and heartbreaking story about two sweet kids from broken homes fighting their way through unimaginable horrors to just survive and then to maybe one day get that happily ever after we sooo want for them.

Amazing story!

If I had to find some things I didn't love-love? I don't like it when I don't have a real city. I need to imagine a real place in my head. I think it's never actually said that we're in New York - I just imagined it like that in my head - and we go to Poughkeepsie for a bit, so we are in New York. But still. I prefer having a real name. Real cities and places and parks and streets et cetera.

And then the two parts of the book. I loved it all. So much. But. I would've preferred to have more of the second part. There was a bit too much children story for my taste. 30% or so of the story would've been enough for their childhood.

BUT as I said - I loved this book!

DROWNING IN STARS was such a heartbreakingly beautiful kids-YA-coming-of-age-family-drama-love-story!! I just adored Pixie & Gaze! Run to your nearest amazon for your own Gaze - this one is MINE!!!
Also - I NEED a spin-off for a certain scarf-wearer!


💜 💜

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Profile Image for Berry ♡ Nice.
535 reviews68 followers
April 6, 2021
Heartbreakingly Beautiful

This felt so real. As if I was there with them. As if I was walking the streets right along with them.

I don’t want to believe there are parents like this but sadly there are. My heart breaks for Pixie and Gaze.
I rooted for them to make it out unscathed

I don't even know how many times I had to clear my teary eyes. Most of the tears came from ugly sad moments but some of them were from beautiful love and a promise. A promise that there is good in their world. I think this gave Pixie and Gaze hope.

I started this read completely blind. I didn't know what I was getting myself into and this was the best way to experience this journey.
I was scared, sad and hopeful for Pixie and Gaze. I absolutely loved them with all my heart.
Profile Image for Neverland3r.
257 reviews66 followers
January 13, 2022
Habe ich dieses Buch in 24h durchgesuchtet? Vielleicht.
Pixie musste früh erwachsen werden, da ihre Mutter viel arbeitete. Doch als Gaze in ihr Leben tritt, verändert sich alles für sie. Ich liebte ihre offene und schlagfertige Art. Trotz aller Hürden ist sie für sich eingestanden und tat alles gegen Ungerechtigkeiten. Man merkte richtig, wie sehr sie sich im Laufe des Buches verändert hatte, wie sie zerbrach.
Gaze habe ich schnell in mein Herz geschlossen. Er war eher schüchtern, aber auch sehr neugierig. Und hat in Pixie eine Freundin fürs Leben gefunden. Doch das Schicksal trennte sie eine lange Zeit. Ich habe so sehr mit Gaze gelitten. Vor allem seine Geschichte hat mich emotional total mitgenommen. Doch auch er macht eine große Entwicklung durch und wächst an sich.
Was die Geschichte so besonders macht, ist, dass die beiden über die Hälfte des Buches „Kinder“ sind. Wir begleiten die beiden durch dunkle und helle Stunden des Lebens und sehen sie wachsen.
Hut ab für dieses grandiose Buch und vielen Dank Lisa fürs ermutigen.
Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,632 reviews3,209 followers
March 29, 2021
4 Written With Feels Stars
* * * * Spoiler Free-Grab This While You Can, 99 CENTS!!!
It seems I have taken a fork in the road and taken another path than the one I usually do. This can be a good thing. I just finished a duet that ripped me apart, in a good complicated way, and with Drowning in Stars, I just completed the first YA book I have read in years.

This was angsty and in places intense.
It covers situations no children, tweens, teenagers or adults should ever have to experience. All of those issues are looked at along with show the resilience we all can have surviving them.

This has sweetness, some lighter moments, and reflects the heart of the author. What struck me to my soul was at the end of the book, there was a letter to our main characters, Pixie and Gaze. It was insightful to how this book came about and how these two people represented and stood tall for those who had confided to the author. The words of encouragement, of understanding, of support, were something so special, they should be shared with all, no matter the age or sex.

I said the cover pulled my attention, then the blurb locked me in. They did their job and this is an experience I will remember.

~~~~~ Before Reading ~~~~~
Sometimes You Are Compelled...
To Want Something...
Things You Normally Don't...

I Am Not A Heavy Angst Reader...
But When You Have A Cover...
That Takes Your Breath Away...
Coupled With A Blurb...
That Has Already...
Broken Your Heart...

What Am I Supposed To Do...

I Am Supposed...
To Take A Risk...
And Allow Myself To...
Not Be Afraid of...

Drowning In Stars-August 9, 2020

Drowning in Stars by Debra Anastasia Drowning in Stars

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Profile Image for Dora Koutsoukou.
1,721 reviews337 followers
August 14, 2020
3 ❤️💔❤️⭐️s

Gaze and Pixie’s connection was captivating. They went through hard and tough times and their only life line was their friendship.
There were great heartbreaking moments throughout the story which shook me up...
The characters and the plot were deeply developed and as much as I wanted to love it I couldn’t, due the writing that didn’t manage to grip me.
Profile Image for 25 Readings Or More.
601 reviews130 followers
August 8, 2020
This book broke my heart in many small pieces. It's not an easy story...
The depth of the emotions i felt it was almost painful.
I was angry and so damn sad for these two little children/teen and for what they had to endure in their life.
I'm not gonna tell you anything about the book, just that Pixie at some point of story gonna make a decision that will save Gaze life and damn hers....
No one should go through that....
I'm glad the author choose to not describe certain situations because i could have not stand it.
But here is the really important thing: for all the evil in the world there is also so much good and love ....
And that's what Pixie and Gaze are for each other.

"𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒐𝒏𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒕𝒘𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒖𝒔 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒚𝒐𝒏𝒅 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒏𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒂𝒍 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒕𝒆𝒆𝒏𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕".

Their bond is unbelievable, and it doesn't matter they are so young, they'd do everything for each other, and they never gave up each other.
And at the end that paid them off 'cause they finally had their "happily ever after".

*ᵍᵒ ᶜʰᵉᶜᵏ ᵗʰᵉ ᵉᵈⁱᵗˢ ⁱ ᵐᵃᵈᵉ ᵃᵇᵒᵘᵗ ᵗʰⁱˢ ᵇᵒᵒᵏ ᵒⁿ ᵐʸ ⁱⁿˢᵗᵃᵍʳᵃᵐ @25_readings_or_more
August 30, 2020
4 ⭐'s

The blurb sounded intriguing...and dark as is Debra Anastasia's MO. I just never would have imagined that the story that starts off with these two kids would end up with them being in high school.

There are a lot of triggers so be prepared, however, I was impressed that Pixie's wasn't detailed so that was a big plus.

Pixie and Gaze meet when he moves into the apartment building next door to hers. Their windows are near each other so they start talking and soon enough, Pixie takes him under her wing, showing him all the ropes.

Things are wonderful between the two of them but their lives are pretty chaotic. Nevertheless, they make it through two years before everything they knew is ripped away from them.

Pixie's maturity and selflessness was amazing but I just hated that she had to suffer so much.

After a few years pass, Pixie and Gaze are thrown back together and its sooo sweet. I just loved them together. And I was happy that Gaze got to experience something he sorely needed.

It was wonderful how he took care of Pixie even if there were some things I was shocked that he did while they were apart.

Their story ends well after some crazy drama. I was left with a few questions but overall, I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Sarah.
370 reviews31 followers
February 3, 2022
Ich muss muss muss dieser Geschichte einfach fünf Sterne geben. Wow! Ich wurde schon von der Leseprobe komplett eingenommen, so dass ich das Buch so schnell wie möglich lesen wollte, und ich bin mehr als froh es jetzt getan zu haben. Pixie und Gaze waren einfach großartig. Man konnte ihren Schmerz, ihre Probleme und ihre Konflikte von der ersten Seite an spüren und mitfühlen. Die Themen, die angesprochen werden sind auf keinen Fall leicht, aber es wurde einfach so nah und echt und emotional an den Leser herangebracht. Ich habe das lesen sehr genossen, und das ganze Buch sehr geliebt, es wird auf jeden Fall einen besonderen Platz in meinem Buch-Herzen bekommen. Die Botschaft die zum Ende hin vermittelt wird ist so so wichtig, und sollte von jedem gehört und gelesen werden. Also: lest dieses Buch, wenn ihr emotionale Geschichten mögt. Ich habe auf jeden Fall sehr viele Tränen geweint, und eine neue Autorin für mich entdeckt!
Profile Image for MarvelUsReads.
359 reviews60 followers
August 13, 2020
Simply put, wow! Impacted by the depth of emotions that poured through each page. Debra Anastasia beautifully crafted stunning main characters, depicted a perfect story of sacrifice, and most notably true love. Without a doubt, Drowning In Stars is one of our top 10 reads of 2020. For full review: www.marvelusreads.com .
Profile Image for Debra Anastasia.
Author 37 books3,751 followers
July 30, 2020
Debra Anastasia’s writing is imaginary, dark, comedic, and the perfect sexy. Drowning in Stars is the perfect representation of her!

— Tijan NYT Bestselling Author

Full of gut wrenching angst and poignant emotion, Drowning in Stars is a hauntingly beautiful must read.

–Helena Hunting NYT Bestselling Author


I wanted to go find Pixie

There was no hiding at my height now. In my next class, Ashlin sidled close. “Hey, you wanted to see Pixie? You’re going to see a lot of her soon.”

If she was superman she couldn’t have timed it better because the fire alarm went off. I followed the flow out the door, the teachers closing doors and flicking out lights. I didn’t like how Megan and Ashlin snickered with each other.

They gathered near a group of girls that all had their phones out. Their attention was pinned on a door like they were cats ready for a mouse to pop out.

It was cold outside. I stood near my last class, but it was more a loose cluster. When the door finally popped open, the fire alarm was starting to give me a headache.

The spoils of mean laughter made me grit my teeth. I’d been bullied enough to know that that particular noise was always accompanied by someone else’s pain.

Her hair was shorter than when we were kids, but her face was an instant balm to my raw heart. Pixie.

But I went from calm to confusion. My normally gutsy Pixie looked like she was trapped in her worst nightmare. She hung her head for a few beats of the alarm. Flashes went off. The crew of girls snapping pictures.

Pixie was hugging her body and I realized why with a gasp. She was only in a pair of underwear. She was topless and hugging her breasts as a way to cover herself.

I jumped through the kids in front of me, using their shoulders to hold myself up and swing my long legs through. I flat out sprinted to get to Pixie, peeling off my basketball jacket from my old school as I moved. I covered her from the front, pulling the arms behind her back.

She looked up in my eyes. Her confusion and relief collided.

I slipped my sweat pants off and held them out to her feet. She stuck them in one and at a time and then jumped so I could yank them up the rest of the way.

The world swirled around us, blurry and useless. I used the time to cuddle her to me, holding the jacket closed while she wiggled her arms inside. I leaned over her and snapped up the back. She was covered.

“Gaze?” She held up her hand, well it was her hand but it was dwarfed by the extra fabric of my long jacket on her. She almost touched my face before squinting. “You can’t be?”

I watched as her soul knew what her brain refused to come to terms with.

“I am. It’s me and I’m back.”

Teachers came into our orbit, asking questions. The snide assholes were there too, but the pictures and video continued, I saw it in my peripheral. I’m sure my boxer briefs were super exciting.

Pixie pushed on my chest. “Are you cold?”

“No.” It was her. I could still smell her strawberry shampoo and see the small dusting of freckles on the bridge of her nose. They were my own personal constellation that I’ve always wished on a million times.

Profile Image for Anne OK.
3,400 reviews437 followers
August 22, 2020
TRIGGERS: Physical and Sexual Abuse, Bullying and Alcoholism

Pixie and Gaze met when they were 12-years-old, becoming best friends who shared an unbreakable bond. Their young lives weren't easy, but they always had each other's back. A heart-breaking coming of age story will send your heart through the wringer with a tragic and harrowing – even a little messy storyline. This couple’s high-wire act has a blend of dark angst and tragedy, but there are endearing and memorable highs among the lows. Their resilience and triumphs were extraordinary and admirable.

Their story transpires over a long period of time with a life-altering separation of two years during their senior year of high school. Told from dual points of view, too much of the story is told from a child’s viewpoint and not enough, in my opinion, as adults.

I wasn't overwhelmed with the presentation. It wasn't the best I've ever read in this genre. But I didn't hate it either -- stayed with it through to the end, and I'm glad I did. Definitely a heartbreaking, sad and tragic story, but the author just failed to pull the full range of emotions out of me. There were moments that I absolutely thought my heart would break. And other times where I felt there were parts missing or that the author just didn't reach far enough. The depth and emotional development sometimes didn't seem fulfilled. There was definitely great potential for a five-star read, but just didn’t quite live up to the challenge.

Profile Image for Sophie "Beware Of The Reader".
1,249 reviews338 followers
August 9, 2020
4,5  to 5 stars

And that’s how I fell in love with Debra Anastasia’s stories for the second time in my life…


When I read Poughkeepsie years ago, I fell in love with that story where the gentle hero reminded me so much or Archer (Archer's Voice) with his sweet and quiet soul. The love story was perfect and it left a lasting impression.


Drowning in stars was a real treat. It was like my own Madeleine de Proust. Reminding me how Debra Anastasia knows how to write about sweet heroes that are no less male and fierce protective female characters.

She writes with nuances and soft touches that speaks to my soul and move me every time. There is a timelessness in this story. This is sad and sweet, hard and soft, moving and heart lifting at the same time.


We get to follow Pixie Rae when she is twelve, living in a town nearly on her own as her mom is working three jobs to make ends meet. Pixie was such a competent mini adult, managing the books, paying the bills. She knew everyone in her neighborhood and was fierce with her baseball bat!


When she meets Gaze he is living in the building in front of her own, same level. He’s just arrived with his father and she’ll take him under her protective wing.

Gaze was small and scrawny at twelve. We’ll soon learn that his father is a drunk and beating him.


Debra succeeded in describing the sweet memories of kids used to being poor but living the best summer of their lives while becoming best friends forever.
“The mist from the hydrant combined with the angle of the declining sun tossed a rainbow-colored halo above her head. I felt it in my toes. I felt it in a part of my mind that knew my name. Pixie Rae was part of me. I was in love with her. She tugged on my hands to pull me into the full spray and I followed. I was twelve. I would have followed her anywhere.”


But the sweet was intermingled with the sour when we got to witness the hard beating Gaze got from his father. That’s where the author really gave us the harsh reality of beaten kids, their conditioning to expect the worse. And my heart broke for Gaze when he found his salvation…
“Will Mike hit us before the cookies?” In the silence that followed my question, the late night crickets took over. “No, man. They don’t hit us. They just love us here.”

I swear I was bawling like a baby while walking in the street!


But Debra didn’t stop at that.

She reminded us that we sometimes have to endure to protect ourselves, to protect others. In saving Gaze, Pixie will condemn herself…

And that part was so HARD!!!!


On the one hand I am extremely grateful that Debra spared me the details as I would never have been able to read them in this story.

On the other hand, I wanted to do just what Debra is writing in her author’s notes:
“There were plenty of times I bit my tongue. It hurt to write you biting yours, when all I wanted to do was save you. But, you had to show me and everyone else who takes a risk on this book that there is an after or can be an after. A beautiful, forever after that you deserve.”


That story was full of emotions and filled with gorgeous characters. I have a soft spot for the incredible Austin and would love reading a story about him one day.

This is close to perfect and I would recommend that book a thousand times if you are not afraid of heavy topics and want emotionally charged love stories with unforgettable characters.

Have you read Debra's books? What did you think of it?

Thanks for reading


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Profile Image for Meli.
997 reviews180 followers
January 5, 2022
Pixie nimmt ihren neuen Nachbarn Gaze unter die Fittiche, beschützt ihn vor gemeinen Kindern und hilft ihm dabei, sich in der Nachbarschaft einzugewöhnen. Schnell werden die beiden Kinder, die sich durch ihre gegenüberliegenden Zimmerfenster unterhalten können, zu besten Freunden. Aber die clevere und selbstbewusste Pixie kann weder sich noch Gaze immer beschützen. Sie haben beide ein alleinerziehendes Elternteil, Pixies Mutter arbeitet und ist selten für ihre Tochter da, Gazes Vater hingegen trinkt zu viel und verliert dann die Kontrolle.

Das Buch kam mir unglaublich lang vor. Am Anfang sind Pixie Rae und Gaze erst zwölf und da ich weiß, dass sie irgendwann älter werden müssen, warte ich auch darauf, dass die Geschichte der Kindheit mal etwas vorankommt. Aber dieser Fortschritt ist nur sehr langsam, mit kleinen oder größeren Zeitsprüngen. Die Freundschaft von Pixie Rae und Gaze hat mir schon sehr gut gefallen und man spürt auch, wie sie sich über Jahre aufbaut, tiefer wird und an Bedeutung gewinnt, weil man sie ja die ganze Zeit begleitet.

Die Nebencharaktere sind meistens sehr eindimensional und man kann immer genau erahnen, wie sie sich verhalten werden. Das macht auch das Buch insgesamt recht vorhersehbar macht, obwohl es potenziell spannende Probleme aus jeder Richtung gibt, da das Buch schon einige verschiedene Arten des Missbrauchs bietet. Ich mochte die Dynamik in der Nachbarschaft, in der sich Pixie so gut auskennt, und auch viele liebevolle Details, die die Geschichte, trotz einer Menge Drama und Klischees, authentisch gemacht haben.

Ich fand "Drowning in Stars" insgesamt viel zu langatmig, weil ich auch einfach etwas anderes erwartet hätte, denn ich hätte nicht gedacht, dass wir die Jugend der Protagonisten so lange begleiten würden. Trotzdem mochte ich die Freundschaft von Pixie und Gaze sowie die tiefen Gefühle der beiden, aber alles andere war mir schon ein bisschen zu viel.
Profile Image for Corinna | Corinnas World of Books.
2,011 reviews39 followers
January 11, 2022
Zuerst habe ich mich in das großartige Cover der Geschichte von Gaze und Pixie verliebt. Diese hellen und dunklen Elemente passen perfekt zur Geschichte. Beide lernen sich als Kinder kennen und haben kein leichtes Schicksal. Sie werden zu besten Freunden und helfen sich gegenseitig. Doch was, wenn das Schicksal auf einmal alles anders macht?

Pixie ist für mich eine besondere Protagonistin, die als Kind schnell erwachsen werden musste. Sie hat eine innere Stärke, die ich immer wieder in ihr gesehen habe. Man spürt einfach ihren Willen sich nicht unterkriegen zu lassen.

Gaze hat wie Pixie keine einfache Kindheit. Als Leser spürt man das er durch die Art seines Vaters der immer wieder dunklen Phasen durch den Alkohol hat immer darunter leiden muss.

Der Schreibstil ist angenehm flüssig und wird im Wechsel aus der Perspektive von Gaze und Pixie erzählt. Der Leser kann sie so beide näher kennenlernen und ihre Gedanken und Gefühle erfahren während der Handlung. Die Nebenfiguren sind ebenso authentisch und gestalten die Geschichte mit

Die Geschichte hat mich von Anfang an fasziniert und ich konnte mich kaum vom Lesen abhalten. Pixie und Gaze lernen sich, als Kinder kennen und es entsteht eine wunderschöne Freundschaft. Beide haben keine leichten Verhältnisse, was ihre Familie angeht. Pixies Mutter und sie waren bisher immer ein Team, doch als diese einen neuen Mann findet wird alles anders. Auch Gaze kämpft mit seinem Vater, der dem Alkohol verfallen ist. Ein Wendepunkt der Geschichte verändert alles und man erlebt wie beide älter werden und langsam Teenager werden. Zwischendurch fehlte mir ein wenig die Gefühle bei beiden, aber dennoch habe ich die Seiten nur so aufgesogen, was die Handlung angeht. Das Debüt der Autorin im Verlag hat mich definitiv neugierig gemacht und ich kann es kaum abwarten den 2 Band dieser Dilogie zu lesen. Das Ende hat mich völlig eingenommen und ich freue mich auf die nächsten Werke aus ihrer Feder.

Das Cover sieht so wunderschön aus, man erkennt einfach die hellen und dunklen Elemente. Auch die Blumen gefallen mir sehr.


„Drowning in Stars (Always You, 1, Band 1)“ ist eine besondere Liebesgeschichte, die zu meinem Highlight im letzten Jahr 2021 zählt.
Profile Image for CeCe.
3,338 reviews109 followers
August 9, 2020
I see what emotions the author wanted to bring through the characters, but unfortunately failed.

The heroine and hero are 12 years old when they meet.
The hero is raised with an alcoholic father.
The heroine lives with a mother who works several jobs to make ends meet and is never home. Then the mother marries a creepy man. Then the mother dies and leaves the heroine with the abusive step-father.
Due to an ‘incident’ with his alcohol father the hero goes to live with an amazing foster family for two years where he loses communication with the heroine. During this time, the heroine suffers abuse not only at home, but at school and the hero is mad at her because he thinks she did something. It felt like the story dragged at some points, but did not focus on others.

The first part of the book is the MCs as kids. The switch in POVs is frequent. The story is nothing that I have not read before. There is nothing about these characters that grabbed me or held my attention. The writing felt amateurish.
I expect more from this author.
Profile Image for nikki.
763 reviews88 followers
August 29, 2020
I hate when I can’t get into a book that everyone else has loved. I just couldn’t connect with the writing style or characters and didn’t make it past Chapter 5 - hence why I’ve not given it a rating.
Profile Image for Jenny (bookidoo).
112 reviews18 followers
February 20, 2022
4,5 Sterne

Dieses Buchcover ist doch ein absoluter Hingucker oder? Ich habe mir gar nicht so richtig den Klappentext durchgelesen, sondern ich habe mitbekommen wie das Buch anfängt. Mit zwei wirklich „heftigen“ Sätzen und damit war mir klar ich brauche das Buch.

Dieser Prolog hat mich so umgehauen und mich sprachlos dasitzen gelassen.
Direkt am Anfang hat man hunderte Fragen im Kopf und man möchte einfach nur diese irgendwie beantwortet bekommen.

Im ganzen Buch handelt es sich bis zur Hälfte um die Kindheit von Gaze und Pixie. Allein schon das ist anders als in anderen Büchern, die ich bereits gelesen habe. Es war wirklich toll mitzubekommen wie die beiden sich kennen gelernt haben und zu einer Einheit wurden. Die beiden haben eine ganz besondere Freundschaft, aber eine dramatische Kindheit.
Dadurch hat sich alles etwas in die Länge gezogen und so hat sich etwas die Spannung abgebaut bei mir. Dennoch gab es ein paar Wendepunkte, die alles wieder super spannend gemacht haben und ich das Buch kaum noch zur Seite legen konnte.
Pixie und Gaze sind zwei unglaubliche liebenswürdige, authentische Charaktere, die wirklich kein einfaches Leben haben. Ihre Geschichte hat mich sehr getroffen, wo ich am liebsten die beiden einfach in den Arm genommen hätte.

Aber zum Ende hin hat mir leider etwas gefehlt. Der Höhepunkt der Geschichte kam meiner Meinung zu abrupt und war viel zu schnell vorbei. Da war überhaupt keine Tiefe drin. Und das hat mich leider enttäuscht.

Der Schreibstil fand ich flüssig und angenehm zu lesen. Die Autorin hat die richtigen Worte und Emotionen hervorgebracht, sodass die Geschichte sehr emotional, dramatisch und aufwühlend rüber kam.

Fazit: Eine Geschichte, wo zwei junge Menschen schon viel zu früh erwachse werden mussten und unglaubliche schreckliche Dinge wiederfahren.
Wer auf etwas mehr Drama als sonst steht, ist das eine Leseempfehlung von mir.
Profile Image for ellasbibliothek.
74 reviews2 followers
March 19, 2022
Ehrlich gesagt habe ich lange überlegt, ob ich das Buch kaufen soll oder nicht. Einer der Gründe dafür war, dass das Cover wunderschön ist. Ein weiterer Grund dafür war, dass der Klappentext sich sehr gut angehört hat, jedoch hat mir der letzte Überzeugungspunkt gefehlt. Ein Grund dagegen war, dass ich die Autorin noch nicht kannte und nicht viele Meinungen über das Buch gehört habe.

Dann habe ich jedoch gesehen, dass der zweite Band schon Ende des Monats erscheint, weshalb ich es dann doch gekauft habe.

Und ich habe wirklich ohne Vorstellungen das Buch begonnen und puuuuh. Es hat mich so was von überrascht!

Am Anfang war ich noch etwas skeptisch, da der Schreibstil etwas anders war, als ich ihn sonst mag. Doch das hat sich schnell gelegt. Auch war ich wegen des Alters der Protagonisten unsicher. Ehrlich gesagt hätte ich nicht gedacht, dass sie am Anfang so jung sind, aber das war unglaublich süß. Eigentlich mag ich so junge Protagonisten nicht, aber die Entwicklung ihrer Freundschaft war so süß. Vor allem die „kleinen“, ich sag mal Aufmerksamkeiten, die sie füreinander gemacht haben, waren mega cute.

Ich habe dieser Angangsstory so freudig gefolgt, dass ich dann komplett geschockt von den nächsten Handlungen war. Ab dann habe ich durchgängig die Seiten mit Tränen in den Augen angestarrt und nicht fassen, was gerade alles passiert ist. Der einzige Lichtblick, war der Zusammenhalt zwischen Gaze und Pixie.

Nachdem dann beide getrennt wurden, war es schön mitzuerleben, wie positiv das Leben für Gaze geworden ist, aber trotzdem immer an Pixie gedacht hat. Der nächste Schock kam dann, als Gaze und Pixie dann wieder aufeinandergetroffen sind und man gesehen hat, wie es Pixie geht. Aber dann war Gaze als einziger für sie da das hat nach den längeren schockierenden Handlungen mir wieder ein Lächeln auf die Lippen gezaubert.

Durch die vielen Überraschungen und emotionalen Momente, ist es definitiv ein Herzensbuch und Jahreshighlight für mich geworden.
Profile Image for Keri Loves Books.
1,237 reviews176 followers
August 3, 2020
This was a powerful story. It's not your typical romance, it's love in it's purest form. It's beautiful and heart-wrenching. It's about hope and perseverance. It's finding your soul mate when you were twelve and doing whatever is necessary to protect them. A love that developed and grew so effortlessly that it was written in the stars.

This was an incredibly moving story of two young people forced to grow up early. Gaze was being raised by an abusive, alcoholic father. Pixie was raising herself since her single mother was working three jobs to make ends meet. They met the day Gaze moved into the neighborhood.

Both lonely, they were drawn to one another. They lived in separate apartment buildings, with the rooms directly across from one another. They quickly became inseparable. They had their own routine and took care of each other. They were the best of friends.

Time would pass and their lives would change. Pixie would be forced to make the biggest decision of her life, but if it meant saving Gaze, she would always choose him. She made her choice and everything changed.

Gaze was wonderful and protective. His dedication to Pixie was swoon worthy. Pixie was a tough girl who didn't quit. She was a good person with a heart of gold. These two were some of my all time favorite heroes. And make no mistake, they were each other's hero.

I went into this story blind and I lived in the moment with Gaze and Pixie. My heart was put through the wringer, yet in the pain was beauty. This is a story of friendship that stood the test of time and distance. It's innocent love that turns into a forever worth fighting for. It was well-written and their story's were beautifully told. This story leaves a lasting impression. I absolutely loved it.

Profile Image for Lo Bookfrantic.
760 reviews563 followers
October 23, 2020
3.5 stars
This book started promising but somewhat in the middle just felt flat for me. Overall; I enjoyed it just wished it was deeper.
Profile Image for PeaceOfGod.
663 reviews175 followers
October 25, 2021
THE COVER- 💫💫💫💫💫✨✨✨✨✨⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

WARNING ❗❗❗❗❗❗❗❗

Plot🧐- The H and h(both are around 10-12 y/o in the beginning) live in a shitty neighbourhood , filled with junkies, the H is new in the area and h (her name is VERY unusual, u'll find out) is VERY tough and VERY kind. Takes H under her wing and protects him from bullying and all(unusual ryt? Coz it's usually the other way round),becoz the H is a scrawny little scared kid. Then there is a lot going on in there lives.......which is described in b/w.....you know the usual, how his parents treat him, how her parents treat her. Never felt rushed or anything. Then there is a CUUUUTE accidental kiss.
Then there are Child Services involved(from here the story has taken a dark turn), then foster parents, then abuse(this is where the H and h are separated....for about 3-4 years...or maybe more..don't exactly remember.).Then there re-union.

What i liked the most was.....the way the story swiftly turned in portraying as H the scared little kid and the h as the take-no-shit girl in the in the BEGINNING but VICE-VERSA in the 2nd half of the book, that was becoz of what happened with the h.


💜H- v-card.

🥺h- Now, see, i don't think she was sexually molested during separation, becoz......from the interactions that go on b/w characters.....it's not really clear if she has been raped or not. But in the end when the H and h do it for the first time, he says he'll be careful and he let's her take control, also...no mention of any kind of "first-time-pains" on the h's part so, MAYBE she was molested. Again, its not clear.


Heat-How about .....One sex scene? Does that answer this question??

Cheating/ow/om drama- 😑


❌TRIGGERS--- If the h WAS raped, it is not mentioned DIRECTLY. So, that is really not a trigger.
If you don't like abusive parents, this book is NOT FOR YOU.

🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼 🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼

All in all, this book is VASTLY,EXTREMELY,COMPLETELY
different from the OTHER books written by this author.
Honestly, i read this becoz those OTHER books were....
But i think that you'll like those books more because....
they are more darker,action-packed,heat-packed
,drama,angst ,suspense,lust.

Profile Image for Betül.
970 reviews233 followers
August 3, 2020
**ARC provided in exchange for an honest review**

- 4.5 stars -

It has been almost four years since I last read a book by Debra Anastasia. However, I knew I had to read this book the moment I saw the cover and read the blurb. Debra is such a phenomenal author and really knows how to write a book that is emotionally charged. I was hooked to Downing in Stars the moment I started it. I just knew it was going to be heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. The author definitely delivered and made me fall in love with the two broken but amazing main characters Pixie Rae and Gaze. They are both twelve years old at the start of this books, and I just loved how they met and how their friendship developed.

Pixie was such a strong force to be reckoned with and took on the role as protector of Gaze, who was the new kid on the block. She is one of my all time favorite characters and I love her so much. Both Gaze and Pixie have a very rough childhood/life but still can find the beauty in things. Their friendship is definitely one of my favorites and I didn't want this book to end. This book is funny, emotional, romantic, and uplifting. Debra's writing is just very engaging and has such a nice flow. There was no dull moment and I cherished every scene in this story. I finished this book in two sittings because I just couldn't get enough. Make sure to read this book because it is amazing.
Profile Image for Jo ReadsRomance.
468 reviews29 followers
August 20, 2020
Wow! An incredible standout read of 2020!

Every now and again I read a book that I want to scream and shout about because it was so freakin' good. This is one of those books! Drowning in Stars was a story that was heartbreaking, emotional and gut wrenching, but it also contained magical moments that were filled with hope.

Within the pages of this amazing novel, I met Pixie and Gaze. Two adorable characters that found solace in their beautiful relationship. I was gripped by the journey they both took and rooted for the pair from start to finish.

Drowning in Stars is one of my top favourite reads of this year. If you love a story that will make you cry both sad and happy tears, this should be an instant one click. Pixie and Gaze will stay with me long after I turned the final page of this epic tale. I wish I could give it more than five stars.
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