Review: Stars Go Blue

Stars Go Blue
Stars Go Blue by Laura Pritchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stars Go Blue
By Laura Pritchett

Reviewed by Jay Gilbertson

Webster’s defines Alzheimer’s as a degenerative brain disease, the most common form of dementia, which results in progressive memory loss, impaired thinking, disorientation, and changes in personality and mood. It’s everywhere, this rotten disease, and the main theme running through this short, but powerful novel.

Every other chapter unfolds the thorny relationship of Renny and Ben. An old married couple living out their lives on an isolated ranch in Colorado. Early on you learn of the tragic murder of one of their daughters. This is the wedge, coated with Ben’s slow demise into dementia, which tests their love.

Nearly destroys it.

“She can see him pause, see him register the fact that he’s is without his jeans. Sees his indecision…Sees him, thank god, turn around. She hates him. She pities him. She’s sorry. She’s angry…”

All relationships evolve over time. They shift and change, often becoming more, sometimes less. There is a fierce love that lashes Renny to Ben, Ben to Renny and both of them to Ray. Ray, who shot and killed their beloved daughter Rachel right in front of them. This is the nail, the banging shutter, the unbearable loss that turns them inside out.

Time passes and Ray is released from prison and living in a town nearby. He sends Renny letters begging her forgiveness. Filled with blame and ego, these notes burn her broken heart. Before Ben’s mind has completely gone dark, he too finds out where Ray is living. Revenge consumes him.

“The thing is, Ben thinks, is that Ray’s existence on the planet was always going to haunt. Always going to hurt. Some gut instinct that he trusts. Ray has never really been sorry. Always selfish in the fundamental way. He will take more than he will give.”


As much as I love water and using it as a metaphor can be clever and effective and really cool, you can overdue it. Author Pritchett went bananas. She did. Yet her knowledge of the human heart and of love and regret and all the moments of joy that keep us moving forward rang true. Loud and clear. The ending will surprise you. And give you hope.

“How our own brains do that, pinging with life when each new memory hits, a river of channels sparking into movement. Melting and freezing and flowing. I know that Ben used to sit here, in the same spot, and I understand that he would sometimes watch these first aspen leaves and spring rain, and that he would consider how the universe itself holds all this motion inside the stars, even as they are turning blue.”

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