To the Stars Through Difficulties
by Romalyn Tilghman

She Writes Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-631-52233-8.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 11/30/2017

Fiction: Historical; Fiction: Literary; Fiction: Mainstream

"A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert." —Andrew Carnegie

Community, strong women, history, libraries, relationships, hardships—readers will find all these and more in Romalyn Tilghman's exquisite novel To the Stars Through Difficulties. Three strong women—Angelina, Traci and Gayle—face their own individual life challenges. But together, they weave bonds that are enduring and connect in ways they never imagined. Joining together to help forge the way for a cultural center on the Plains, they help to create a space for all to feel safe, inspired, and welcomed.

Angelina has spent ten years with an almost PhD. She studied for her Doctorate in Philosophy but has not yet completed her dissertation. The subject of her dissertation was inspired by her grandmother and based on the structures built by "the patron saint of libraries," Andrew Carnegie. She is returning to New Hope, Kansas to complete the long-overdue dissertation.

Traci has had a hard-scrabble life and recently relocated from New York City to New Hope, Kansas, where she is to be artist-in-residence at the New Hope Arts Center, the repurposed Carnegie library. She "keeps her head busy so she doesn't fixate on what she doesn't have." Other people's junk is her medium.

Gayle was already residing in New Hope when the tornado destroyed the town, leaving only one wall standing: the front of the Carnegie library. She and her family have no idea what they will do in the days after the tornado, where they will live, how they will live. She only knows that they will, in fact, live.

Readers will find themselves totally drawn into each of these women's lives and the ways in which they develop relationships that define them. Tilghman's book is a testament to the enduring nature of what strong, determined women can do to empower others. It is a delightful reading experience that won't soon be forgotten.

Romalyn Tilghman is a freelance writer and consultant in arts management. She holds BA and MS degrees from the University of Kansas and has studied writing at the UCLA Writer's Program. This is her first novel and was inspired by her work as Executive Director of the Association of Community Arts Councils of Kansas.

(See another review of this book, here)

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