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Synopsis of Where the Forest Meets the Stars

Where the Forest Meets the Stars begins when a little girl walks out of the woods barefoot and covered in bruises. Jo is renting a house and doing her bird research when a girl claiming to be an alien from a distant planet walks into her life. Ursa Major, the girl, has to stay on earth until she sees five miracles, and then she must go back to her people. Jo just thinks that she is a runaway and enlists the help of her neighbor Gabriel to find her parents.

Daily checks of missing person websites become further apart as the little girl teaches them how to love and trust again. The more they get to know her the more questions they have like how does she understand Shakespeare and why good things keep happening around her? When everyone’s painful pasts catch up to them, all their secrets are exposed. Their fates will be left up to the stars.

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First Impressions

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At first, I thought this could be an interesting read, but I kept putting it off because I wasn’t feeling a contemporary fiction novel. This one turned out to be pretty good. I wasn’t a huge fan of all the profanity and honestly, the author could have changed how Gabriel found out about his mom’s affair, even though it didn’t go into details. Each of the main characters has been hurt in their lives but when they come together they build each other up and become even stronger than they were alone. 

Where the Forest Meets the Stars Parent Guide

Overall: R for language, intense sequences, and adult content

Violence: PG-13 for intense sequences and thematic elements; a retelling of child molestation and double murder, armed gunmen trying to break in and shooting.

Language: R six instances of the f-word and other frequent uses of profanity

Adult Content: R non-descriptive poetic paragraph about sex; a retelling of secretly watching his mom have an affair. It was an accident and it doesn’t go into what happened but does impact him; also non-descriptive nudity and some making out.

Reading Level: Adult 

Touchy Topics in Where the Forest Meets the Stars

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  • Trust: All three of the main characters have trust issues they have to work through and eventually overcome throughout the book.
  • Higher Education: Joanna is getting her Ph.D. Gabriel’s father was a professor at a university. They both encourage Ursa to learn and stretch her mind.
  • Right vs Lawful: Joanna takes Ursa in and helps her but goes against the law by not getting police and social services involved.
  • Family Pressure: Gabriel feels pressure from his family to act and feel certain ways.
  • Outside expectations: Joanna’s coworkers and ex pressure her and expect her to act in a certain manner and are trying to tell her how to live her life instead of letting her know what is best. Similar things happen with Gabriel and his family.
  • Science vs God: Jo and Gabe both grew up in very scientific-minded households. They never mention God specifically but they do take about fate and something more.


“Gabe started to live as Ursa did, in an infinite present disconnected from the past or future.”

Glendy Vanderah, Where the Forest Meets the Stars

“You don’t have to say anything.” He sat back in his chair. “I won’t. As always, words fail when you most want to say the right thing.” “People think they have to say something, and it never makes me feel better.” “I know. I’ve decided language isn’t as advanced as we think it is. We’re still apes trying to express our thoughts with grunts while most of what we want to communicate stays locked in our brains.” “This from the son of a literature professor?”

Glendy Vanderah, Where the Forest Meets the Stars

“We’re at the creek catching fish with a holey net. Understandably, this may take some time. Come join us if you enjoy frustration.”

― Glendy Vanderah, Where the Forest Meets the Stars

My Thoughts on Where the Forest Meets the Stars

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This book is so beautiful and so magical. I love how both of the main adults have real hard problems they have to face. Jo is in remission from cancer and Gabe deals with depressions and anxiety. Those are both real and heavy topics then you bring in a girl bursting with life and joy who wonders at kittens and smores. Ursa brings a new way of looking at the world that brings happiness and joy to the hard spots.

If you are looking for something a science fiction book with a lot of aliens you need to find a different book. There are so many points where this book made me double and triple guess whether Ursa really was an alien or not. Honestly, I still am not quite sure and I don’t know if I need an answer either. Ursa will wrap your heart around her little finger just like she does with Jo and Gabe. You can’t help but love her and metaphorically hold her close.

As a word of caution this book is not for teens or young adults. This is an adult book due to the high use of language and adult content. The adult content is not raunchy or a centerpiece like an erotic novel but it artful and tasteful. It is also quick so you can skip to the end of the paragraph and everything is done. Some of those passages I didn’t realize what was happening until afterward because of how non-descriptive it is. The violence is that of a PG-13 movie and something that you would see in an NCIS style television show. That being said I do recommend this book to adults looking for a thought-provoking read that will seep into you.

What to Read Next?

More books with real people dealing with real problems are Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon, If I Lie by Corrine Jackson and North of Beautiful by Justina Chen. These three books are 100% clean and I would highly recommend them to any teen, young adult, or adult reader.

Let me know down in the comments what you think of this book!

Happy Reading!