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The Weight of the Stars

Review

The Weight of the Stars

A story that's intimate and expansive all at once, THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS is a slow burn, character-driven queer girl love story that shimmers with longing.

Ryann Bird dreams of going to space. It's not entirely far-fetched --- around when she was born, NASA was absorbed into the military, catalyzing a rise of private space programs. One such program, SCOUT, was initiated to send a team of young people to explore the cosmos, never to return to earth. But it's far-fetched for Ryann. No matter how much she studies, she can't change the fact that her parents are dead, and she has to take care of her brother and his infant son in their shared home in the trailer park.

"THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS will stick with you. It's a compelling, page-turning read, with Ancrum's signature style of short chapters working so well...its impact will linger long after the final page."

Here on Earth, though. Ryann shifts the cosmos in her own way. She's butch, queer, and naturally muscular, and her friends are a misfit bunch who carve out a safe space for each other. When a new girl comes to school, they welcome her in --- though she's not very friendly, at first.

Because Alexandria stands out from the crowd for a very unique reason. Those young people, chosen for SCOUT nearly two decades ago, they were specifically selected so they wouldn't leave anyone meaningful behind. Except...one of them got pregnant, right before she had to leave. Under SCOUT's directive, she kept it quiet, delivered, and left the planet forever.

That woman was Alexandria's mother. Now, Alex spends every night on her roof with a satellite, gazing out into the abyss of space, trying to pick up whatever signals from her mother she can. Ryann is drawn to her, wanting to help however she can, but what does she have to give?

THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS will stick with you. It's a compelling, page-turning read, with Ancrum's signature style of short chapters working so well in this setting, but its impact will linger long after the final page. Though the conceit speaks to space travel, the novel is rooted in a small town, in the intimate ways we can harm or uplift each other.

Every character is so full and vibrant. Ancrum portrays a diverse, inclusive friend group beautifully --- I wanted to hang out with them! --- and equally diverse, inclusive families. This is in part a heist novel, in part a coming of age, in part a love story, and it does every part justice. Expect a soft, powerful narrative. Gays in space, but make it poignant! I've ached for a story like this, and Ancrum truly, gloriously delivers.

Reviewed by Maya Gittelman on March 22, 2019

The Weight of the Stars
by K. Ancrum