The truth about forever and happiness in “The Chaos of Stars”

New York Times bestselling author of Paranormalcy, Kiersten White, returns with her stunning novel The Chaos of Stars — an enchanting story set in Egypt and San Diego that captures the magic of first love, the eternally complicated truth about family, and the universal vulnerability we all experience when we realise for the first time that we are mortal, vincible, and nothing lasts forever. Through her guarded, daughter of the Gods protagonist Isadora, White teaches about the importance of being brave in the both the biggest and smallest moments in our lives.

Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up—which comes with the territory when you’re the human daughter of the ancient Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris. Isadora is tired of living with crazy relatives who think she’s only worthy of a passing glance—so when she gets the chance to move to California with her brother, she jumps on it. But her new life comes with plenty of its own dramatic—and dangerous—complications . . . and Isadora quickly learns there’s no such thing as a clean break from family.

Blending Ally Carter‘s humour and the romance of Cynthia Hand‘s Unearthly, The Chaos of Stars takes readers on an unforgettable journey halfway across the world and back, and proves there’s no place like home.

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What originally attracted me to The Chaos of Stars was the beautiful cover and title. I haven’t actually read any of White’s previous books, but I might now after reading this one. It was a good novel, full of charm and character and had a distinct teenage-girl-ness writing style, which is exactly what you’re going to get in a young adult, fantasy, romance novel.

The book is a very entertaining read, but it is more about teenage angst than it is about mythology. It wasn’t really something that bothered me, because I was more interested in the story, the characters and the magic than the actual real facts about Egyptian mythology.

One thing I did enjoy and appreciate in The Chaos of Stars, was the message I felt White had embedded into her story. The idea that nothing lasts forever, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what we have, when we have it, and find happiness in it.

At the start of the novel, when Isadora realised that she was not immortal and could in fact, die, she felt as though her life had no real meaning. What was the point in being there? What was the point in anything, if you couldn’t live forever? What was the point in having something when it wouldn’t last? And then hurt when we lost it?

One thing she always pushed away was love, because how could she let herself feel something and love someone, knowing that in the end, she’ll lose them and be in pain?

About halfway through The Chaos of Stars, Isadora asks her best friend Tyler how she can love her boyfriend, Scott, and really be here in the present with him, knowing that they will come to an end at some point. She says:

“How do you let yourself love something you know will end? Don’t you feel sick all the time? Terrified? What will you do when you lose him? Even if you don’t break up, you’ll die. It won’t matter in the end.”
She takes the nail-polish brush out of my hands, screwing it back onto the bottle. “Isadora, sweetheart, that is the saddest thing I have ever heard.”
— Keisten White, The Chaos of Stars

Just because nothing lasts forever, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. Maybe that’s exactly the best part of it, because it means we can enjoy it more, now, and be fully here, enjoying what we have and when we have it before we lose it. The fact that nothing lasts forever is exactly the reason why we need to enjoy things and be happy with them and love them when we have it. It makes us appreciate it more, and not take it for granted.

The meaning of the book is summed up through Tyler’s words to Isadora:

“I don’t know about forever. It’s not something that concerns me. And maybe Scott and I will get married and have fifty babies and be old and wrinkled together. Or maybe we’ll crash and burn and break up, and if it happens it’ll be devastating, but what we have now makes me happy. And I can live in that happy, and feel safe there, knowing that even if things change, I’ll always have had this. You know?”
— Kiersten White, The Chaos of Stars

Good things don’t last forever, so we need to feel them when then they come, and give our whole hearts to them. Because if the good things don’t last forever, then that means that the bad stuff doesn’t either.

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