cover image The Star That Always Stays

The Star That Always Stays

Anna Rose Johnson. Holiday House, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-82-345040-4

Johnson uses her own great-grandmother’s story as a foundation to deliver an intimate tale chronicling an Indigenous 14-year-old’s life in a new city, set in 1914 on the brink of WWI. Following Norvia Nelson’s parents’ divorce and her mother’s whirlwind nuptials to a white man they hardly know, Norvia’s mother, who is French and Ojibwe, asks her and her siblings to hide their Indigenous heritage from their new stepfamily. The Nelsons soon move from Beaver Island on Lake Michigan to Boyne City, where Norvia longs for her old life listening to her late Grand-père tell stories about their ancestors. Struggling between embracing her heritage and attempting to fit in at her new high school, Norvia channels heroines from her favorite novels, including Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, to navigate shifting family dynamics, community gossip over her parents’ divorce, prejudice, and first love. This introspective, unhurried debut, filled with personal touches from the author’s ancestry as detailed in an author’s note, is populated by memorable characters, such as Norvia’s larger-than-life younger sister. Johnson’s family photographs and an Ojibwe glossary conclude. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jessica Schmeidler, Golden Wheat Literary. (July)