In Sight of Stars

In Sight of Stars

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself—his beloved father, weekly trips...

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Title:In Sight of Stars
Author:Gae Polisner
Rating:
Edition Language:English

In Sight of Stars Reviews

  • Kelly Hager

    Finished In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner. I received a copy for review. This will be published March 13.

    Klee (pronounced like clay) has been committed. We don't know why, and this book goes back and forth in time, explaining how he got there and, more importantly, how he'll find his way back.

    I want to make my book club read this, because I have so many thoughts. I think teens will love this---this book really showcases the way that everything feels so viscerally important but never makes it f

    Finished In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner. I received a copy for review. This will be published March 13.

    Klee (pronounced like clay) has been committed. We don't know why, and this book goes back and forth in time, explaining how he got there and, more importantly, how he'll find his way back.

    I want to make my book club read this, because I have so many thoughts. I think teens will love this---this book really showcases the way that everything feels so viscerally important but never makes it feel silly or trivial, but I think it will also resonate with adults, because we actually really get the idea of having to decide whether to pursue your passion or to settle for a career you don't love so you can manage to buy food and pay rent and all the other delights of adulthood.

    I'm not sure I can even express just how deeply this book has resonated with me. Every character, every theme, every nuance is absolutely perfect. Most of all, it's about how art can save us temporarily while we become strong enough to save ourselves. And about how asking for help is not at all weak. The world is better with this book in it.

    Highly recommended.

  • Dawn  McNutt

    I received an uncorrected proof from Facebook friend and author, Gae Polisner. This review, however, is written without bias and without a complete summary because...read the book. I hate spoilers. Without giving up the plot I can say it is beautifully written with characters that are still in my mind and even made me dream of them as I napped today. The nap was necessary because I couldn't put the book down last night and stayed up until I finished it this morning after 3 AM. The subject matter

    I received an uncorrected proof from Facebook friend and author, Gae Polisner. This review, however, is written without bias and without a complete summary because...read the book. I hate spoilers. Without giving up the plot I can say it is beautifully written with characters that are still in my mind and even made me dream of them as I napped today. The nap was necessary because I couldn't put the book down last night and stayed up until I finished it this morning after 3 AM. The subject matter, concerning mental health and recovery, complicated parental relationships and friendships was so real and handled with great care. There were a couple of gut punch parts but overall It gave me hope. It was deep enough to challenge adult and young readers alike. Definitely giving this book as a gift to others. I also think that this book could help people struggling with anxiety and depression even though the story does not necessarily focus on those diseases but rather tells a beautiful story of one teens journey. I love the characters and it's a really good book. The small stories within and the riddle were a nice touch. I liked the alternating perspectives used in the writing. A must read, for sure. I wonder how long these characters will be hanging out with me, making me think? Probably a really long time.

  • Jeff Zentner

    I loved this book from start to finish.

    It’s an achingly fierce exploration of the way the world wounds us and heals us. If you love exquisitely written coming-of-age stories that will leave you breathless, In Sight of Stars is for you. I wanted to underline every other passage.

  • Donalyn

    I've read all of Gae Polisner's books and enjoyed them all, but this is her best so far. Her characters feel like people you know (or want to know) and the structure of this book is unique and thoughtful. I can't wait to share this book in my workshops this year!

  • Larry H

    4.5 stars, rounded up.

    Klee (pronounced "Clay") worshiped his father. They shared a love for art and artists, especially van Gogh, and they spent countless hours together painting and visiting museums and galleries, and Klee loved listening to his father's stories, even the ones which were so clearly made up. He knew his father gave up his dreams of becoming an artist to have a stable job as a lawyer, but his father wants him to have the chances he never had.

    His father's sudden death turns Klee's

    4.5 stars, rounded up.

    Klee (pronounced "Clay") worshiped his father. They shared a love for art and artists, especially van Gogh, and they spent countless hours together painting and visiting museums and galleries, and Klee loved listening to his father's stories, even the ones which were so clearly made up. He knew his father gave up his dreams of becoming an artist to have a stable job as a lawyer, but his father wants him to have the chances he never had.

    His father's sudden death turns Klee's life utterly upside down. He's forced to leave New York City, leave his best friends behind, and move to a house in the suburbs with his mother, whom he thinks of as "The Ice Queen." He doesn't think she's sad enough about his father dying, and he blames her for everything that has gone wrong. But he just needs to bide his time a little bit longer before he can go to art school in Boston, fulfilling his father's wishes.

    Klee feels angry and abandoned, and isn't dealing well with his grief. But then he meets Sarah, a free-spirited girl in his art class at his new school, and he is drawn to her immediately. She simultaneously draws him in and keeps him at arm's length, but she recognizes Klee's talent and his generous heart (as well as his abs). He starts to think that perhaps Sarah can save him from his crushing grief, but she has her own troubles, and doesn't like it when he broods.

    "I follow silently, wondering what it is about her that breaks my heart and fills it at the same time, that scares me but comforts me, that makes me want to tell her things I can't begin to find words for."

    One night, feeling that Sarah is pulling away from him and suddenly being confronted with what he believes is the truth about his parents' marriage, things go utterly, utterly wrong. In a moment of abject despair, Klee's actions land him in what is known as the "Ape Can," a psychiatric hospital for teenagers.

    As Klee begins to deal with the feelings that sent him spiraling downward, he must begin to confront the truth—about his father, his mother, his parents' relationship, and his relationship with Sarah, and he needs to figure out what is real and what he has imagined, or dreamed into existence. With the help of an understanding therapist, a unique hospital volunteer, and a few of his fellow patients, he starts to realize that he can pick up the pieces and live his life doing what he loves—art.

    (taken from the van Gogh quote, "For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream") is told in two perspectives—present time and Klee's life after his father's death—in order to get a full picture of the challenges he has faced, and you get to uncover the truth at the same time he does. It is gorgeously told, and you feel the emotions, the struggles, the epiphanies that Klee does.

    Gae Polisner, whose last book,

    (

    ), made my list of

    , writes with such beauty, such empathy, such heart. I loved these characters, and wouldn't have minded if the book were twice as long.

    I struggled a bit with the start of the book, because in an effort to help you see things from Klee's traumatized and drugged perspective, the narration was a little jumbled and I wasn't sure what was real and what were his hallucinations. But that ended quickly, and I found myself utterly hooked on this story, needing to figure out what had happened. Polisner made me cry, she made me laugh, and she made me think. There were so many times I just marveled at her turn of phrase, or a piece of imagery.

    might not necessarily break new ground, but it touched my heart and my mind. This is a book that says you can't go it alone, that we need to come to terms with the flaws of those around us as well as our own flaws, admit what is hurting or bothering us, and that is how we can find the strength to move on. I hope those who need to hear that message get their hands on this book.

    NetGalley and St. Martin's Press provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

    See all of my reviews at

    , or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at

    .

  • Vishy

    Gae Polisner's 'In Sight of Stars' was one of my most awaited books this year. I loved all her three earlier books and so I couldn't wait to read her new one.

    In the first scene of the story we find Klee Alden, our narrator, opening a door and entering somewhere and he sees something inside which shocks him and something inside him snaps and he takes a knife out of his pocket and before anyone around him could do anything, he tries to cut himself in his neck. Sometime later we find him in a hosp

    Gae Polisner's 'In Sight of Stars' was one of my most awaited books this year. I loved all her three earlier books and so I couldn't wait to read her new one.

    In the first scene of the story we find Klee Alden, our narrator, opening a door and entering somewhere and he sees something inside which shocks him and something inside him snaps and he takes a knife out of his pocket and before anyone around him could do anything, he tries to cut himself in his neck. Sometime later we find him in a hospital and he hears voices while his eyes are closed. Later, when his physical health is better, he meets the therapist, Dr Alvarez. As Klee and Dr Alvarez talk about his past and what led to his present, Klee also narrates his story in the first person in the gaps between two therapy sessions, and we get to know more about his life, his dad who was a lawyer but who was a painter at heart, his mom who is always dressed elegantly and who seems to be always detached emotionally from family happenings, his friends Kleto and Dan, his new friend and later girlfriend Sarah - we learn about all these people and the part they play in Klee's life. We also learn about the people he meets at therapeutic centre - Martin, Sabrina and Gene - people who are there for therapy like him and with whom he becomes friends. Atleast sort of. We also learn about Sister Agnes Teresa who frequently visits Klee in the evening, plays board games with him and keeps him engaged and provides him opportunities to learn and grow as a person. We also learn about Nurse Carole, who takes care of Klee. We also learn about Klee's love for the paintings of Van Gogh, a love which has been passed on to Klee by his dad. As we wonder what happened in Klee's life that led to his present situation, the different story strands weave together into one fabric and the surprises are revealed. When the revelations arrive, they are stunning - I didn't see them coming.

    The first thing I loved about 'In Sight of Stars' was the cover. It is stunning, isn't it? A great ode to Vincent Van Gogh. I also loved the story - the shocking start, the journey back and forth across time as the different happenings in Klee's life are revealed, the stunning surprise which leaps at us towards the end and how all the story strands come together perfectly in the end. Halfway through the novel, I despaired for Klee - it looked clearly that he has suffered a lot, but we don't know the details, and I wanted things to become better for him so that he could live a normal boring life, like everyone else. Does he get to do that? I so want to answer that question but I won't - that is not for me to reveal but for you to read and find out. I loved most of the characters in the story - some of them were beautiful and perfect while others were beautiful and complex and flawed. I loved both types. My favourites were Dr Alvarez and Sister Agnes Teresa and also Klee's mom, but when I think about it again, I really loved them all - they were beautifully sculpted. Gae Polisner's prose flows beautifully and every sentence and paragraph and page moves the story, builds a character or sets up a scene. There is no word wasted. The book is also a love letter to Vincent Van Gogh and his paintings. If you love Vincent Van Gogh, this book is definitely for you.

    It is hard for me to not compare 'In Sight of Stars' with Gae Polisner's other books. I love them all because of the way they take a contemporary issue involving teenagers, family, community and society and explore it in depth in the form of fiction. 'The Pull of Gravity' will always have a special place in my heart because it was Polisner's first book but I also loved 'The Summer of Letting Go' and 'The Memory of Things'. In this book, 'In Sight of Stars', I felt that the style and the story and the characters were more intense, more grown up. I felt that the author was getting into new terrain here. I loved that. I think, though it is hard to compare, that it is one of Gae Polisner's finest works.

    'In Sight of Stars' is about love, family, loss, grief and about the beauty and therapeutic power of art. It is early days yet, but I think it is one of my favourite books of the year.

    I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

    Have you read Gae Polisner's 'In Sight of Stars'? What do you think about it?

  • Oona

    Please note that this review is written by a teacher with the intended audience of educators. I make specific recommendations for how to consider this novel for addition to curriculum, so if you don’t want to nerd out with me, skip this. 

    I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel at the NCTE convention and was able to read the book in just a few sittings once I began it. I value this novel most for its reflection of real life, artistry in details and consistency in craft. The main charac

    Please note that this review is written by a teacher with the intended audience of educators. I make specific recommendations for how to consider this novel for addition to curriculum, so if you don’t want to nerd out with me, skip this. 

    I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel at the NCTE convention and was able to read the book in just a few sittings once I began it. I value this novel most for its reflection of real life, artistry in details and consistency in craft. The main character, Klee (pronounced Clay), is simultaneously grieving both the sudden loss of his father and his mother's austere response to the death. His response to being uprooted from city life and transplanted, in his final year of high school, to a comparatively provincial northern suburb, is realistic. Klee's loneliness and longing for connection are palpable. Polisner writes Klee's internal monologues convincingly, and her use of flashback and flash forward is intentional. I especially liked the two strong female characters who aid Klee in his recovery, one of whom is a mental health professional, and the other of whom is a Catholic nun.

    I’ve read two of Polisner’s other novels, both of which appeal to middle grades or high school students. This novel is one I’d recommend exclusively for the high school grades, due to the maturity of the content. I rarely say this about a YA novel, but this one could work as a whole-class study for eleventh or twelfth grade. Before you pitch it as such to your supervisor or principal, make sure several of your current students have read it, and ask each student to write down three reasons it should be added to your school’s curriculum. I would pitch it as an alternative to a novel such as like Ordinary People by Judith Guest, since it has comparable themes. (Similar to swapping out The Perks of Being a Wallflower for The Catcher in the Rye.) In planning a full unit of instruction, I suggest collaborating with an art teacher and a psychology teacher. There are so many opportunities for interdisciplinary study with this text, and an English teacher cannot do it all!

    Before beginning the unit, definitely take the time to pre-assess what students already know about Vincent Van Gogh, and tap into any expertise in your classroom throughout the course of the novel study. Consider reading and analyzing the following short texts in class as students read the novel: "Hanging Fire" by Audre Lorde, "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson, and "Digging" by Seamus Heaney. An excerpt from Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman would also help to frame the study of the novel. Playing the songs "Vincent" by Don McLean and "The Flight of Icarus" by Iron Maiden, and analyzing their lyrics in relation to the characters in the novel would be another germane learning experience for readers.

    If you offer this book as a literature circle choice, consider designing an instructional unit with these other thematically apropos novels as choices: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner and The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork.

    The language in this novel is colorful from its very first page, but have you heard how high school students talk? Stand in almost any high school cafeteria at lunch and listen — you’ll hear far worse in a shorter span of time than what you’ll see occasionally surface on the pages of this novel. To those who have gripes, I say: BFD. At its core, this is a novel about grief and shame, and when human beings try to navigate these complex emotions, language often becomes colorful. I wouldn’t suggest selecting a passage rife with profanity for a class read-aloud or book talk, but beyond that, my students' lives aren't censored, and by eleventh or twelfth grade, I would hope that they're not hyper-focused on f-bombs but instead immersed in the struggles and circumstances of the novel's characters.

  • Monica

    Excellent story! Fast paced, this book can definitely be completed in one sitting. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Our main character Klee is brutally honest. At only 17, he has faced grief, trauma, and adversity. At the heart of the book is the idea we most often see what we want, what is easiest. The truth is so unclear sometimes. Particularly when it concerns loved ones. We can twist reality to match our ideas of our life story. The difficult part is removing those rose colored glasses and living in

    Excellent story! Fast paced, this book can definitely be completed in one sitting. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Our main character Klee is brutally honest. At only 17, he has faced grief, trauma, and adversity. At the heart of the book is the idea we most often see what we want, what is easiest. The truth is so unclear sometimes. Particularly when it concerns loved ones. We can twist reality to match our ideas of our life story. The difficult part is removing those rose colored glasses and living in our true story, not just the one we dreamed for ourselves.

    Although definitely in the YA category, I recommend

    for all readers looking for an authentic account about youth, mental illness, and forgiveness.

  • Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always

    Whoops, I ended up not finishing this one.

    At least I managed to uphold my 30-percent-before-I-quit rule.

    Mini review to come closer to the release date.

    [DNF @ 30%]

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