What do readers think of Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff? Write your own review.

Summary | Reviews | More Information | More Books

Raft of Stars

by Andrew J. Graff

Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff X
Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Mar 2021
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Reviews

Page 1 of 3
There are currently 19 reader reviews for Raft of Stars
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

An outstanding debut novel.
Raft of Stars is the first novel by American author, Andrew. J. Graff. Fish and Bread are on the run. Fish (sort-of-accidentally) shot Bread’s dad (a nasty, violent alcoholic), and they don’t want to go to jail or foster care. Bread leaves a note for Fish’s grandpa on his fridge to explain they are headed for the National Guard Armory at Ironsford to find Fish’s dad (who will know what to do).

The note promises to send money for what they have taken, and asks grandpa to please reassure Fish’s mom they will be OK: they have their bicycles, two cups, their fishing poles, some food, Jack Breadwin’s gun and five bullets, grandpa’s jackknife and sharpening stone, a flint, matches and a tarp. Please tell the Sheriff that Fish didn’t mean to kill Bread’s dad (he’s on the Breadwin kitchen floor).

Ten-year-old Fischer and his best friend Dale Breadwin are confident they can make their way through the Mishicot Forest to Ironsford, ninety miles to the north. They will build a cedar raft, follow the river, hunt and fish, poach if they have to.

Their plan does have a few small wrinkles: Fish hasn’t told Bread that his father died in the Middle East three years ago; both boys are likely discounting the danger of coyotes and bears; neither boy is aware that the forest harbours dubious characters running meth labs in riverside cottages; nor, perhaps most importantly, that there are dangerous, unnavigable rapids at Ironsford Gorge.

They soon realise that they have grossly underestimated the difficulty of raft-building with only a barlow knife, and when their food supply (Slim Jims, beans, tuna) runs out, they are dismayed to find not only that foraging and fishing less productive than they had anticipated, but also that killing a creature to eat it is not as easy or straightforward as they had believed.

Meanwhile, within hours, several people are on their trail. Fischer’s grandpa, Teddy Branson is a Korean War veteran who immediately understands the dangers these essentially good boys could face, and is determined to save them. Sheriff Cal is a newcomer to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, having departed Houston, Texas in disgrace to take up the post of interim Sheriff in Claypot. A year in Marigamie County has done little to take the city out of the man, and he’s unconvinced about such a trek on horseback.

Fischer’s mom, Miranda travels from Cedar to await news at Teddy Branson’s farm. Tiffany Robins, the purple-haired cashier at the Sit-And-Go Gas Station, was charged with caring for Sheriff Cal’s dog. The aspiring young poet, who is sweet on the Sheriff, joins Miranda when the blue heeler goes AWOL. But Miranda is a mother fiercely attached, a lioness who is single-minded about rescuing her boy, and cannot sit idle. These two women strike out in pursuit, proving themselves surprisingly resourceful.

As two boys on a raft face hunger and weather and wildlife, two men with horses, persistent mosquitoes and a machete slash a path north, while two women paddle a canoe towards those killer rapids. They face wild water, storms both physical and psychological, and discover untapped reserves of strength and courage.

As the story hurtles towards a dramatic climax, friendships are formed, loyalties are tested, truths are told and acts of true bravery are performed. Graff does it all with some gorgeous evocative prose: “Fish saw a stretch of river the length and width of a football field, marked by vertical cliffs on either side, with two or three craggy islands dividing explosive currents. The water seemed to fight itself. It tumbled into pits. It bellowed. It hissed and leapt. It beat against the faces of the islands in giant, upswept pillows of water. Downstream of the islands, the entire river disappeared again, presumably over another falls, sprays of water rising into the lightning.”

This is a tale of love and grief and valour which can favourably compare with William Kent Krueger’s This Tender Land. Frequently funny (often blackly so), sometimes sad, and occasionally thought-provoking, this is a tale that would translate extremely well to the silver screen. An outstanding debut novel.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and HQ Fiction.
Ginny H. (Troutdale, OR)

Raft of Stars
I am so amazed by the beauty of this book. What a wonderful story filled with characters that I learned to love and an adventure that keeps you on the top of your toes. The author is an amazing writer. I found myself having to stop after reading a sentence and admiring its perfection. I hope to find more books from this author in the future. This deserves more than a rating of 5 for Very Good. It was exceptional. This is one of the best books I've read in years.
Miriam B. (Lakewood Ranch, FL)

Raft of Stars is stellar!!!!
I loved Raft of Stars by Andrew J Graff and it was my book of the Fall 2020. The author made me care about the six main characters but especially the 2 boys- Fisher "Fish" Branson and Dale "Bread" Breadwin. Fish's grandfather Teddy and his mother Miranda are such strong wonderful people as is Sheriff Cal and Tiffany who is sweet on Cal. This story is such an adventure and was a real page turner.
The advice Miranda gives Fish is particularly perfect for this time of pandemic...... she says, "Just for a minute, just enjoy your pillow, just rest, let it go. Close your eyes and sail away from troubles on a raft made of stars!" Just change the word pillow to book and that is what we need now.......
The writing is beautiful and the book ends with words from Fish's grandfather, you are strong and you are good, and you are not alone." Amen.
Susan S. (Salida, CO)

Adventures like no other
If I could, I'd give Raft of Stars more than five stars! Two young boys on adventure in the woods near Claypot, Wisconsin with all the suspense of a cliff hanger. The characters reach out from the page and grab your heart – flawed and perfect, energetic and tired, ready for more and ready to quit.
Susan R. (Julian, NC)

Friendship
This is a book that I'd have never picked up -- a coming of age story about boys! Really? I won a copy from BookBrowse and knew I had to give it a chance. Wow - am I ever glad that I did. This debut novel was fantastic -- it not only featured the two young boys but also the adults in their lives. I laughed with the two boys and at times their friendship and honesty with each other made me cry. This is a book that I won't soon forget.

It's 1994 in a small town in Wisconsin. Fish has spent the summer with his grandfather ever since his father died three years ago. His best friend Bread lives with an extremely abusive father who constantly terrorizes him. The boys became best friends as soon as they met and they spend their summer in the woods, playing games and making up stories for their enjoyment. Until the summer night that Fish sees Bread's father hitting him and Fish grabs a gun and shoots him. The two boys know that they are in big trouble and head off into the woods to get as far away as possible. They make it to the river, make a raft and set out on their adventure to escape. They are being tracked by four adults who want to help them - Fish's mother Miranda, a wise woman full of fierce faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet looking for connection; and Sheriff Cal, who's having doubts about a life in law enforcement. The time the boys spend on the river is full of perilous situations that had this reader quickly turning pages to find out the outcome.

This book is more than a simple coming of age novel. It's a story about the bonds of friendship and the lengths that people will go through to help the people that they love - whether they are family by blood or family by friendship. Thanks to BookBrowse for a copy of this book to read and review. It was fantastic!
Randi H. (Bronx, NY)

Beautifully written
I loved this emotionally powerful story of two boys and the community that forms around when they find themselves in trouble. The writing is lush with a very strong sense of place, in this case the woods of northern Wisconsin. I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys character-driven novels.
Power Reviewer
Dorothy M. (Maynard, MA)

Kind of a Huck Finn for our time
Andrew Graff's debut novel is set a small town in Wisconsin where he grew up and it's a story about love and what happens to people who lose it or never had it. It begins with two friends - boys about 10 or 11. Fish lost a much-loved father to the war, and Bread lost his mother and lives with his father who is an abusive alcoholic. When Bread's father attacks Bread one too many times, Fish picks up the father's gun and shoots him. Terrified at what they have done the boys flee into the forest around them, sure that they can take care of themselves. Fish has been staying with his Grandfather for the summer. When the Sheriff calls him looking for the boys the grandfather convinces the sheriff to join in a chase on horseback into the woods to try and find them. This is a coming of age book about friendship, a story of people so unsure of themselves that they don't realize what is possible if they would only ask and it's a great page turner of an adventure story. You won't be able to put it down once the boys take to the river.
Carolyn L. (Summerville, SC)

Raft of Stars
I enjoyed this book very much. The author writes beautifully, and I cared about the characters. I liked the boys' growth as they struggled on the river with the raft. It was a little difficult for me to follow the goings-on on the river, with the islands, upstream/downstream, etc., but that wasn't really important. The story was good and well told, and I would read more by this writer.
  • Page
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

More Information

Readalikes

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Swimming Back to Trout River
    Swimming Back to Trout River
    by Linda Rui Feng
    Linda Rui Feng's first novel, Swimming Back to Trout River, is a powerful meditation on the ties ...
  • Book Jacket: The Unfit Heiress
    The Unfit Heiress
    by Audrey Farley
    During the American eugenics movement (see Beyond the Book), involuntary sterilization was used to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Daughters Of Smoke & Fire
    by Ava Homa
    Ava Homa's debut novel begins with an epigraph by Sherko Bekas, a Kurdish poet, the last lines of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Flight
    by Julie Clark
    Julie Clark's second novel, The Last Flight, is the tale of two women, each desperate to escape an ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Book of Lost Names
by Kristin Harmel
A heartrending novel of survival, inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Everybody
    by Olivia Laing

    "Impassioned and provocative...[an] intensely moving, vital and artful book."
    The Guardian

  • Book Jacket

    Footnotes
    by Caseen Gaines

    The story of New York in the roaring twenties and the first Broadway show with an all-black cast.

Who Said...

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

H I T Best P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.