It has been a wonky time for posting book reviews over the last month or so. That is mainly thanks to me moving and keeping up with work on top of that. Needless to say, many things piled on at once and I lost a lot of time for reading and a lot of time for me. I managed to get a little time back and found myself pining for a small town with a magic pie shop in Miranda Asebedo’s A Constellation of Roses.
Seventeen-year-old Trix McCabe has been on the run ever since her addict mom abandoned her at a hotel. She has an almost magical gift of stealing things that help her survive. One day, she is finally brought into social services, who find her some relatives to live with: Mia, Trix’s bubbly aunt, who makes incredibly healing pies; Auntie, Trix’s fireball great-aunt, who reads palms; and Ember, Trix’s shy cousin, who can tell people’s secrets just by touching them. Trix slowly becomes charmed by these strangers’ way of life in their charming little town and makes some small discoveries on the way to putting down roots.
This is a comforting book. I think anyone reading about a small Kansas town with a shop where you can buy tea and magical pies from some charming local women would feel relaxed. For the time that I read this book, I set aside other tasks so I could go to this town and be with these women and just chill. It is definitely nice to read a book where the stakes are not high and you just spend time among small-town folk.
Trix is fun and easy to follow. She certainly acts like a teenage brat sometimes, but that is part of her growth. It also gives Auntie some fun opportunities to call her out on her bullcrap and endear us to Auntie.
I really enjoy the magical elements in this story. It might seem familiar to read about a small town where women with special powers run a shop that everyone suspects is magic, but I’m sure everyone has come across a shop that feels magic. As I said, the atmosphere is so chill and you wish you could spend a morning drinking tea and enjoying a slice of lemon pie that temporarily relieves your loneliness.
Of course, we need our taste of teenage romance and angst. Jasper, the shop delivery boy, helps Trix adjust to living in her new home, and again, you wish you could drive out through this town at sunset delivering pies to nice folks…
I hate to keep replaying the “chill small-town folk” card, but that is why I enjoyed this book. When the real world feels so chaotic, it feels good to go to a place where the only concern is whether Auntie feels like making coffee that morning, and where you can make pie crusts with Mia at four in the morning listening to a classic rock station on the radio before the shop opens up to the familiar regulars…
Yet, there is melancholy lurking beneath all that comfort. While Trix’s new small-town life may be quaint and sweet, she carries a sad past of loneliness and uncertainty. Time and again, she gets pulled back into what she calls the Good Year, where her mom was healthy and happy and they could get by honestly. Trix’s longing for her friends and stability is truly sad, and when tragedy strikes her and her mom, it reminds you that, while Trix is a tough cookie, she is still a child longing for family and love.
Anyway, you’ve heard from me a dozen times that this is a chill book. If that’s what you’re looking for, please give it a read. I’m not saying this book is a masterpiece of chill, but it calmed my heart for every page I turned. It might also help to curl up in your favorite reading chair with an afghan blanket and a warm slice of your favorite pie.