I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy.
According to the back cover copy, Thompson “is a successful entrepreneur, collaborator, adventurer and writer” who “alongside his wife, travels, surfs, snowboards and fly-fishes – and is teaching his two young sons to do the same.”
Raised in Ventura, California, Thompson takes readers on a journey throughout the American West as he recounts motorcycle rides with his grandfather and road trips with friends and family. Each chapter lovingly includes hand-drawn maps with animals and geographic details and highlights of where to acquire the best tacos and the best coffee along each route. Thompson notes the location of his favorite bookstores, fishing holes and fly shops on all these maps, which gives local flavor to each area he has traversed.
According to the copyright page, all interior art is by Elain Thompson. She is not given any credit on the cover, which is unkind because her drawings add a personal spark to We Stood Upon Stars that would be noticeably missing without her artistic contributions.
We Stood Upon Stars is not so much a book about finding God as it is a book about discovering one’s self during the journey of his or her life. Thompson does not mention God or religion in every chapter; when he does mention God, it is with purpose and the mention fits naturally into his writing style. He does at times go off on tangents about God and religion, which can potentially make non-Christian readers feel slightly uncomfortable.
Thompson is obsessed with raising his sons to be men, his sons’ journeys to manhood and his own inability to fix anything mechanical, yet Thompson is unable to “man up” and teach his sons about sex and reproduction before the public school system does this for him. As a progressive female, I personally hope Thompson is teaching his sons more than just stereotypical male roles and behavior and how to fish.
The redeeming quality of We Stood Upon Stars is Thompson’s ability to write from life as he touches on such topics as grief and parenthood with a steady hand and mostly centered thoughts. His writing style makes We Stood Upon Stars feel more like a guide book and less like a memoir, which is refreshing. His sense of humor shines throughout his book as well.
“Some days the town looks like it woke up and decided to go through the day in sweatpants and slippers,” Thompson writes of Ventura, his hometown.
Readers will laugh out loud at his camping story about an encounter with a small rodent that he and his friend originally thought was a much bigger wilderness mammal.
The front cover is ultimately why I chose We Stood Upon Stars as my latest review selection. The cover beckons us to explore the wilderness around us and to take the time to peer intently at the stars whenever possible. There is a cohesion between the front cover design and the inside pages. The crossed arrows on the front cover are used within the body copy as time markers between paragraphs. The travel van on the front cover makes multiple appearances in the interior artwork as well as being a recurring theme in several chapters.
The back cover copy is ordinary and gets the job done without any additional flair, like plain laundry detergent is adequate at cleaning clothes. The copy font is an easy-to-read serif. The paperback pages have a soft texture that does not absorb skin oil easily. The subtitle of Finding God in Lost Places is a bit misleading and could sway some readers to dismiss We Stood Upon Stars even though it is well-written from the heart and an enjoyable read.
There is an overall “welcome to my home” feeling about We Stood Upon Stars that makes this book a good choice for anyone who has or is experiencing stress – basically every living American adult. Those among us who enjoy exploring life, immersing in nature, abandoning the main highway in favor of a backroad and star gazing will find a delightful sense of wonder in We Stood Upon Stars and will grasp Thompson’s point of view fairly quickly.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.