The Movement of Stars

The Movement of Stars
Amy Brill
Riverhead, 2013

Please take a moment and soak in that cover. It's stunningly simple. It's beautiful, reservedly elegant. And so, so fitting.

Hannah Price is unique. Even as she outwardly follows the principles of her strait-laced Quaker community in Nantucket, she is straining against their limitations. Her heart is in the stars, obsessively searching for a comet to call her own and win the King of Denmark's medal. Rather than trying to become a "good catch" and transition into wife-and-motherhood, Hannah spends her days in the Atheneum (basically a library), and her nights watching the skies and assisting with her father's repair business (servicing navigational instruments for whalers). If she is a bit "unconventional," it is okay -- as long as she maintains the pretense of adherence, the community will mostly accept Hannah's quirks. Until she starts teaching a young whaler-sailor from the Azores. Isaac Martin is unlike anyone Hannah has ever met, and as their secret lessons continue, he not only stretches her mind - he opens her heart, in ways Hannah never thought possible. As Hannah stretches, she begins to question: herself, her family, the whole Quaker community. The answers are sometimes surprising, but as she gains a clearer picture of Life, Hannah grows. Even after Isaac leaves, and the formal "lessons" end, Hannah keeps searching for truth. Not the accepted truth of her people, or her past, but the truth that will propel her into the future.

The Movement of Stars is a beautiful story of personal growth, and the importance of asking your own questions. With careful historical context, and just enough astronomical history to make this spacegirl happy, it's an engrossing read that makes me want to find out more about Maria Mitchell, the real-life American astronomer who inspired the story.

Book provided by my public library.

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