In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

My Rating: 5/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 7/10 Stars! I really love this cover, but I feel that it could’ve been even more tailored to the story then it already looks. I would have loved a sort of Van Gogh inspired illustrated cover that would’ve been more painterly. But as it stands it is a lovely conventional ya cover!

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publish Date: March 13th, 2018

Number of Pages: 288

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon


Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.

Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself—his beloved father, weekly trips to the MoMA, and the thrumming energy of New York City. That is until he meets wild and free Sarah in art class, with her quick smiles and jokes about his “brooding.” Suddenly it seems as if she’s the only thing that makes him happy. But when an act of betrayal sends him reeling, Klee lands in what is bitingly referred to as the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens in Northollow.

While there, he undergoes intensive therapy and goes back over the pieces of his life to find out what was real, what wasn’t, and whether he can stand on his own feet again. Told in alternating timelines, leading up to the event that gets him committed and working towards getting back out, Gae Polisner’s In Sight of Stars is a gorgeous novel told in minimalist strokes to maximal effect, about what makes us fall apart and how we can put ourselves back together again.

Opening Sentence: “Even before I push the fucking door open, I know.”


At first I didn’t know what to think of this story. It took me a while to really understand the writing style and where it was all headed, but when I did I began to appreciate the story all of it. It’s brilliant from the very first sentence to the very last. Starting in a (doctor prescribed) drug induced state of hallucinations going on to become more and more clear as Klee heals made the story incredibly unique.

What I Loved:

The change in tone. The ethereal almost mystical tone of the beginning changed to a very real hard hitting one as Klee heals. The beautiful writing created a novel that I am now in awe of.

Paintings influence. I love when the emotional aspect of painting informs the emotion in the characters. Klee and his dad are both painters and the memories of their bond and how they both used it to express themselves was a beautiful touch.

The rawness. Every single moment I felt the raw nature of the story deep within me. It was a hard read for me because I started reading right before my dad went into the hospital and it was difficult for me to keep going, but I feel like reading this and watching a character heal helped me see that I too would heal. After all I have to appreciate the time I have with my family now. I’ve been a mess of worry for a while.

Misinformation. Another thing I loved was that there are secrets kept and beliefs that Klee holds that he doesn’t realize are not true. This happens in real life all too often and utilizing this as a big part of the grief Klee held was brilliant.

The memories. I really like how the memories were told almost dreams, lost in thought moments, and direct stories Klee tells his doctor while in the ape can. At first they are all tangled up and more and more you get attached and emotional as Klee finally reveals the answers to the questions you’ve been thinking about. Mainly what happened to get him into the ape can in the first place?

A unforgiving look at grief and depression. This story holds no punches. Things get dark and very real. It’s heartbreaking. At times it brought tears to my eyes.

All in all:

I think everyone should give this book a shot. The beautiful writing and raw emotion will pull every person in. You can’t not care about Klee and his grief. Another example of a story well told.

About the Author:

“I write both women’s and young adult fiction.

When I’m not writing, I’m swimming, hanging with my kids, or cooking and cleaning. Okay, fine, I’m probably not cleaning.

I have written since I was little, mostly poems and short stories through college. Then, I went to law school and, for over a decade, replaced all that creative writing with legal briefs. But after my sons were born, I decided to return to my first love.

In 1995, I set out to write a book, not knowing if I actually could. I have completed at least five full manuscripts since then.

I like to think my novels are accessible, lyrical (somewhat literary) fiction – and, my young adult stories, an homage to the character-driven fiction I loved so much as a child and teen (anything by E.L. Konigsburg, Paul Zindel, Madeleine L’Engle, or Judy Blume…). The Pull of Gravity has a special “secret” nod to the first novel I couldn’t put down – Don’t Take Teddy, by Babbis Friis-Baastad. To this day, I remember the feeling of frantically turning pages to find out if the brothers would be okay. If any of you ever read that book, please send me an email, and we can be instant BFF’s.

My first piece of women’s fiction, The Jetty, was a Top Semifinalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. My second piece, Swim Back to Me, will be revised one day soon and hopefully see the light of day. In the meantime, my next YA novel is coming soon from Algonquin, and I have several more teen novels in the works. So, please check back here often for updates.

I live and write on Long Island with my two amazing boys, my handsome, smart husband who sings, and two very “enthusiastic” cockatiels, Taha and Bobo. When I’m not writing, I’m still a practicing family law attorney/mediator, and when I’m not doing that, I’m swimming in my pool or, better yet, the open water off of Long Island.

To learn more about YA-author me, come on over to my YA blog, That Wee Bit Heap.

To learn more about wife/mother/swimmer me, follow my women’s fiction blog, Trying to Stay Afloat in a Sea of Words.”

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

-Till next time!

20 thoughts on “In Sight of Stars: A Review

    1. He is home and we’ve had to take him to doctors visits a couple of times. He’s just in the same state. He isn’t progressing, but he hasn’t improved either, but so long as he’s here and walking about with some normalcy I’m much happier.

      Liked by 1 person

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