The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph
The Brightest Star in the Sky is another one of Marian Keyes’ punch-you -in-the-stomach-when-you-don’t-expect-it books. This one starts off a little strangely, with an invisible otherworldly being narrating while lurking around a specific address, trying to figure out which one of the house’s inhabitants he or she has been sent to find. It isn’t clear if this is supposed to be an angel, or the Grim Reaper – about halfway through, you learn it’s a soon-to-be-born baby’s spirit, trying to pick its parents.
The spirit hovers around every apartment, listening in on conversations and learning about the relationships between each couple. Here and there it manages to get into a person’s memory, and learn about their history. For the first few chapters it doesn’t seem like there will be much of a contest: will the spirit pick the over-40 woman with the workaholic boyfriend as a potential mother? The mouthy cab driver? The TV addict newlyweds?
Eventually (maybe a bit too late) Marian Keyes delivers a plot twist that makes you realize things aren’t as simple as they seemed. The characters have deeper, darker problems than it seemed on the surface. What started off as a lighthearted book about angels and newborn babies turns into a discussion of sexual assault, mental health problems, and death.
While I thought the story was good, and included great commentary about sexual assault, Keyes spent a bit too long telling the back story before getting to the point. I like a mix of cutesy and serious, but the cutesy was a little overdone in this case, and not genuinely laugh-out-loud-funny like some of her other books. I think she did dark much better in This Charming Man, and hilarious much better in Watermelon, Angels and Sushi For Beginners.
On the Geets scale of good beach read this gets 7/10.