Raft of Stars
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About the Author
Andrew J. Graff grew up fishing, hiking, and hunting in Wisconsin's Northwoods. After a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Graff earned an MFA from the University of Iowa. He teaches writing and literature at home and abroad, and has served as editor of the Cedarville Review. He lives in Ohio.
"An adventurous tale of misfit characters and a humble riverboat."--Parade ("A Must-Read Book of Spring")
"A heartfelt and enjoyable story with a welcome and genuine sense of place."--Milwaukee Magazine
"The wilderness odyssey that shapes Graff's rewarding coming-of-age debut has a timeless, archetypal resonance. . . . Graff depicts the harsh Northwoods setting and his misfit characters' inner lives with equal skill. The dynamic quest narrative offers plenty of rich moments."--Publishers Weekly
"[An] exquisitely crafted novel about two 10-year-old boys on the lam on a river raft. . . . The art and craft of this narrative, apparent from the first page with its sublime constellations of images, offers brutal beauty, the glinting edge of truth, and the possibility of redemption for the fifth-grade boys, and also for the adults chasing them. Finding their way through the thick, gnarled woods and along the perilous river, both children and adults show they can transcend the thicket of confusion surrounding their personal circumstances and emerge toward more clarity."--Boston Globe
"RAFT OF STARS is a dark, dreamy, adrenaline-spiked escape into [the] Midwest wilderness. . . . RAFT OF STARS is both a plot-driven wilderness adventure and a fragile coming-of-age story. Graff captures the pure connection between friends on the cusp of adulthood, struggling to love parents with sometimes-unforgivable imperfections, and the world created by his powerful, thrumming style is not so much a setting as it is a star-shot forest dreamscape of cedar trees, prowling coyotes, and sun-bleached scarecrows made of bone."
"Reminiscent of stories like Stand By Me and Have You Seen Luis Velez?, Graff's debut novel will enchant fans of Chris Cleave and Melissa Bank. Graff's narrative voice is lyrical, with a Southern Gothic edge that fits surprisingly well with the Wisconsin Northwoods setting. Exploring the necessity of the stories we tell ourselves to survive, Raft of Stars is a clever, compelling coming-of-age tale."--Booklist
"I had no idea people wrote books like Andrew J. Graff's Raft of Stars anymore--a rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor and characters worth worrying about. It's as if, after observing the deplorable state we're all in right now, the author took it upon himself to raise our collective spirits. Bravo!"--Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and Chances Are...
"In ruggedly beautiful prose, and with a deep affection for his damaged, but always loveable characters, Graff delivers a novel with real heart and soul. An authentic look into the heartland of America, into one-parent households, where mothers and grandparents are supporting the next generation while fathers are either absentee, or should be. Like a barrel going over a waterfalls, Raft of Stars sweeps its reader downstream, and fast. Hold on for the ride." --Nickolas Butler, author of Little Faith
Graff has crafted not only an adventure story with a warm heart at its center, but a whole town of characters for readers to fall in love with.--J. Ryan Stradal, author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota
"The characters are expertly drawn in their shifting relationships . . . Both an engaging adventure and a profound reflection on human bonding, what it means to be a man (and a good one), and the importance of persevering. . . . Highly recommended, whether you want literate thrills or thoughtful, affirming meditation."--Library Journal (starred review)
Rural Wisconsin in the mid-1990s is the setting for Graff's memorable story of loss, violence, adventure, and redemption. . . . Graff's characters have heart to spare, and his affection for this rugged part of the country is infectious. His coming-of-age story offers us nostalgia and escape, and he reminds us that while freedom can be elusive, the people who love you always make your life worth living."--Kirkus Reviews
"You'll be so busy savoring this deliciously-written tale that the only thing you'll truly care about is that this book lingers, like a soft summer night, so grab Raft of Stars and run with it."--Yankton Daily Press
"Outdoorsy tales like this, from Hemingway's early Michigan stories to James Dickey's Deliverance on down, typically use woods and waterways as proving grounds for masculinity. But Graff...wants to unravel some of the expectations of the genre. Nature, here, isn't impressed with masculinity at all, and it's prepared to smash machismo against its rocks along with anything else. . . Graff writes exquisitely about the wilderness, ...[and] recognizes that his main job is to deliver a gripping adventure tale, which the concluding chapters offer plenty of -- dangerous rapids leading to life-threatening waterfalls, menacing black bears and coyotes." --Washington Post