FTC Disclosure: I received this book from She Writes Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.
“Stella Rose” by Tammy Flanders Hetrick (2015)
Page Length: pages (ARC copy)
Upon Stella Rose’s death, her best friend, Abby, moves to rural Vermont to take care of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Olivia. But Abby struggles to connect with Olivia and she soon finds guardianship of a headstrong teenager daunting beyond her wildest misgivings. Despite her best efforts, and the help of friends old and new, she is unable to keep Olivia from self-destruction. As Abby’s journey unfolds, she grapples with raising a grieving teenager, realizes she didn’t know Stella as well as she thought, and discovers just how far she will go to save the most precious thing in her life. (description from She Write Press)
Stella Rose is the story of two women’s emotional journey. One (Abby) lost a best friend, the other (Oliva) lost her mom. While the novel does center around Stella’s death we also see how it is a catalyst for how Abby and Oliva (our main characters) process her death through the five stages of grief, but also jump starts a self-exploration process.
At first, it is very hard for Abby and Oliva to accept her death. Oliva is a angst ridden teen trying to fight through her sadness and Abby is mourning a friend while also taking on the new role of a mother. The stress of the new living situation and Stella’s death ends up causing a rift in their relationship. They both try to sort out their own feelings among dealing with their own personal drama.
I thought a really nice touch to the story, was the monthly gift and letter that came from Stella Rose. In these letters she expresses her regrets, her relationship with Abby and Oliva, and dealing with her illness. The letters lay out the timeline of the novel and we get to see how both women grow individually and in their relationship as the months and seasons pass by.
By the end of the novel, Abby and Oliva have a mother daughter relationship. Events and obstacles are thrown at them in order to test, but ultimately strengthen their relationship. They also become more confident about what they want in life and really start pursuing what they love in life.
I will also say that this novel was as equally heartbreaking, as it is heartwarming. And it’s a definite tear-jerker, but I fully enjoyed it.
An emotional journey about dealing with loss of someone we love.