After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.
The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.
Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?
Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.
This book was AMAZING! I loved it so much. I thought this book was so original, with very well developed characters that I could perfectly imagine.
Jo Teale is an orinthologist, studying the nests of Indigo Buntings, and the impact of habitat loss on their population. The once prevalent birds have dropped in numbers in recent years due to habitat loss, and Jo is studying the survival rates of nests alongside roads compared to more remote and wild locations. One night after returning home, a girl in dirty pajamas shows up out of nowhere, and tells Jo that she is an alien. Jo enlists the help of the local Egg Man, Gabe, to help her find where the girl came from, and the two end up playing family with Ursa, as she calls herself, like the great bear in the sky.
I loved the intricacies and complexities in this book – where did Ursa come from, really? Could she really be from the stars? What should Jo and Gabe do? Ursa is brilliant and sharp and doesn’t miss a beat. The three actually start to become a real family, one that they have chosen for themselves. But how can it last? They need to find out the truth about Ursa sooner than later, as every day is a day that could possibly get them into more trouble, and Ursa’s sticking to her story that she is from an alien planet and can’t leave until she witnesses five miracles.
While Jo is recovering from her own history, Gabe has his secrets as well, that slowly he reveals to Jo, little by little. Secrets that have shaped his entire life. Jo and Gabe find solace in each other, and they become more than they were before on their own. Their peace and contented happiness has a deadline though, and they know it, unless steps are taken.
I loved this book, every single bit of it. Fantastic characters, including Jo’s bestie Tabby, who I loved as much as Ursa does. It is a book of moving parts and little bits that all just fit together at the end. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it!