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Same Bright Stars

Ethan Joella's new novel is a beautifully written character study!

Atmospherically set in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, it made you feel like you were strolling the boardwalk and meeting up with characters who felt real. The novel is character-driven and told through the third person POV of Jack, who has spent every day of his life entirely devoted to running his family's restaurant and has put it above all else. In his 50s, he never takes a day off, has no hobbies, a string of failed relationships, and no time for himself. But now, he finds himself at a crossroads. A huge corporation has offered to buy the restaurant, and Jack is considering their offer as he would like more out of life, but he has concerns about his beloved staff and family's legacy.

I appreciated the honesty in the depiction of Jack's life and the characters around him. Things were not wrapped up in a tidy bow but presented in all of life's complicated, unexpected, messy beauty. This story was quiet but moving. I was riveted and rooting for Jack in his moments of heartbreak and hope. He was such a well-developed and relatable character. I also really loved Lara and Nicole, and they ended up surprising me. Self-discovery, family dynamics, love, grief, friendship, found family and second chances are just a few of the things touched on in this book. This was my first book by Joella, but it will not be my last. I loved his touching storytelling and the depth of his leap-off-the-page characters. This was the book I didn't know I needed right now, and one I continue to think about even days after finishing.

Pub Day: July 2, 2024

304 pages

Thank you to Scribner Books for the free book!

My steep was Sun-Kissed Huckleberry by Lake Missoula Tea Company from my gifted June Amoda Tea box. An herbal honeybush tea with marshmallow root, rosehips, lemon myrtle, raspberry leaf, elderberry, and pink peppercorn, this was fantastic iced.


Three generations of Schmidts have run their family’s beachfront restaurant, and Jack has been at the helm since his father's death. He puts the demands of the restaurant above all else, with a string of failed relationships, no hobbies, and no days off as proof of his commitment to the place. He can’t remember the last time he sat on the beach or enjoyed a moment to himself.

Meanwhile, the DelDine group has been snapping up beloved eateries along this stretch of coast, and it is pursuing Jack with a very generous offer to take Schmidt’s off his hands. Jack craves companionship and maybe even a family. He wonders whether closing the door on the restaurant might open a window for him—but who would he be without Schmidt’s, and can he trust DelDine’s claims that it will continue to employ his staff and honor his family’s legacy?

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