Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on January 5, 2014
In my review of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, I asserted that it comes as close to high art in children's books as you can find. That is still my opinion. Starry River of the Sky is advertised as a companion book, but it is really a prequel to the earlier book. I didn't realize that this was the case until about a quarter of the way into the book when Rendi, an angry boy forced to be a “chore boy” at a small town inn, tells a story about Magistrate Tiger, who plays a prominent role in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. The main plot centers on Rendi who has run away from home and has a secret past that he hopes none of the other people at the inn discover. It also the case that he is the only one who seems to notice that the moon is missing. At night he is tormented by a crying, wailing sound that keeps him awake. He is resentful and goes out of his way to be cruel to others, especially the inn keep’s daughter, Peiyi. As with Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Lin interweaves a number of stories told by various characters which begin to merge with the main plot line. We learn, for example, that the inn is located in the Village of Clear Sky because the Mountain Spirit moved the Never Ending Mountain out of fear that Peiyi’s great grandfather would dig up and carry it away so that it would no longer block his view of the sky. As the plot progresses, we meet new characters and learn about various conflicts among the town’s residents. We also slowly learn about Rendi’s past and admit to the source of his anger. Eventually, the missing moon is found and Rendi puts his anger aside, with an ending that anticipates several objects and events in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Other reviewers have noted that this is a story about forgiveness. But for me, it is more than people saying “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.” It is how forgiveness can come from resolving problems to the satisfaction of both parties who feel wronged and how the aid of others is vital to this process. Although I did not find Starry River of the Sky as moving or memorable as Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, it is an excellent, inspiring story, with great artwork. Another gem by Grace Lin. I recommend it without reservation.