Book Notes: Light From Uncommon Stars

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Read Apr 4, 2022 - Apr 10, 2022

This is a lovely book, filled with lovable characters and feeling. It is a novel about food, music, and love, which are perhaps different expressions of the same thing.

I would call this more magical realism than sci-fi, with much humor and a lot of humanity. It is a book filled with women, in the best possible way. At the center is a depiction of a transgender character that I found touching and compelling (as a cis person), and an exploration of the steep costs she pays for being herself.

The story has a delightful sense of place. The sprawling extended LA suburbs – not exactly a glamorous locale – are described with a genuine warmth and deep familiarity. It is a region chock-full of different immigrant communities overlapping and mixing at the edges, making it an excellent setting for a story about food, family and music.

I enjoyed this a lot. It was a wonderful respite from the daily doom and gloom we seem to be living in lately.

Book Highlights

Here at Starrgate Donut, Lan and her family would safely wait out the fall of the Galactic Empire, continue their work, and live undisturbed, as long as -— as Mr. Thamavuong stressed —- they gave donuts to the police officers for free.

Tomorrow is tomorrow. Over there is over there. And here and now is not a bad place and time to be, especially when so much of the unknown is beautiful.

More fighting, more war, as if people’s very souls were falling away into disrepair.

And then there was an amazing substance she had discovered on this planet: MSG. Just a little, and everything took on a whole new level of tastiness.

“Lan, what would happen if someone played their existence not only to its inevitable end, but also to its inevitable beginning? “What if someone played their music to its inevitable everything?”

Shizuka would guide her, let her feel human, no matter how she might doubt. Let her feel old and broken. Let her feel childish and naïve. There was no need to be perfectly beautiful, nor immortal, nor untouchable.

And she sang and spoke until she could stand alone, in front of everyone, and declare herself beautiful.

Tags: books

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