The Stars Can Wait by Jay Basu

     Stars Here’s another addition to the literature on war times and occupation, told from the viewpoint of an adolescent tugged between the two worlds of childlike innocent perception and the weightier (and more horrific) adult issues.   In The Stars Can Wait, Gracian Sofka is a 15 year old village kid living in German-occupied Poland in 1940 whose only solace from the wretchedness of his life is sneaking out at night to view the stars in a forest clearing known only to him, or least the reader thinks.   It’s dangerous to do so, as this patch of woods is heavily patrolled by the Germans, but Gracian takes the risks; the heavens and their secrets provide meaning in a drudgery-driven life that can only get worse. 

His much-older gruff brother Pawel forbids him to continue when he catches Gracian at one of his nocturnal visits to the clearing.  But his brother apparently knows more than the peril of getting caught by the Germans – it turns out that Pawel has his own agenda to contend with that includes a questionable past life, nightly disappearances, and long unexplained absences from his family.  Pawel does have a surprising change of heart, when he presents a small telescope to Gracian and manages to secure steady employment in the coal mines.  For the time being, this seems enough, but is it really?

     This book is a pretty quick read and fairly well-written.  It’s not exactly a happy tale and doesn’t cover a pleasant time in history, but if you want something from your reading experience rather than sheer entertainment, give it a whirl. 

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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