STELLA ROSE

Tammy Flanders Hetrick

Upon Stella Rose’s death, her best friend, Abby, moves to rural Vermont to take care of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Olivia. Because Stella cannot bear to leave her best friend and daughter all at once, she leaves a series of letters of encouragement, love and advice. But Abby struggles to connect with Olivia and she soon finds guardianship of a headstrong teenager daunting beyond her wildest misgivings. Despite her best efforts, and the help of friends old and new, she is unable to keep Olivia from self-destruction. As Abby’s journey unfolds, she grapples with raising a grieving teenager, realizes she didn’t know Stella as well as she thought,

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Upon Stella Rose’s death, her best friend, Abby, moves to rural Vermont to take care of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Olivia. Because Stella cannot bear to leave her best friend and daughter all at once, she leaves a series of letters of encouragement, love and advice. But Abby struggles to connect with Olivia and she soon finds guardianship of a headstrong teenager daunting beyond her wildest misgivings. Despite her best efforts, and the help of friends old and new, she is unable to keep Olivia from self-destruction. As Abby’s journey unfolds, she grapples with raising a grieving teenager, realizes she didn’t know Stella as well as she thought, and discovers just how far she will go to save the most precious thing in her life.

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  • She Writes Press
  • Paperback
  • April 2015
  • 343 Pages
  • 9781631529214

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$16.95

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About Tammy Flanders Hetrick

Tammy Flanders Hetrick has been telling stories all her life, refining her skills at age ten through marathon tag-team storytelling with her best friend, honing her craft through decades of business writing, and ultimately finding joy in extracurricular creative writing. She has published short stories in Your Teen Magazine, Blue Ocean Institute’s Sea Stories, and Route 7 Literary Journal. In 2009 she was recognized with the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition’s Pioneering Woman Award for coaching and mentoring women in the workplace. Hetrick lives in Vermont with her husband of thirty years, their two cats, and a beagle/miniature bull mix.

Praise

Tammy Flanders Hetrick has written a marvelous first novel. Stella Rose is the dramatic, clear-eyed story of a dying mother who leaves her beloved friend the most precious legacy imaginable: her sixteen-year-old daughter to raise. Stella Rose is a celebration of love in many forms, from wildly romantic passion to friendship, from eternal family devotion to an abiding love of the world we all live in.”—Howard Frank Mosher, author of A Stranger in the Kingdom and Where the Rivers Flow North

In this fascinating exploration of the interconnectedness of lives, Hetrick mines the ways in which relationships both grow and flounder under the stress of devastating disease, familiarity, and responsibility. Stella Rose takes the reader through the volatile territory of adolescence as a teenager navigates unchartered possibilities replete with equal doses of hazard and potential.

Yvonne Daley, author of Octavia Boulevard & director of the Green Mountain Writers Conference

Tammy Flanders Hetrick’s novel Stella Rose proves to the reader that Love is not just stronger than Death, but stranger. Succumbing to illness, a brilliant woman bequeaths her teenage daughter, their home, and a series of instructions for life while grieving to her best friend. Hetrick deftly studies the ties that bind, unraveling mysteries that complicate and, finally, enrich intimacy.”—Verandah Porche, author of Sudden Eden & recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Marlboro College

Warmhearted and sincere, Stella Rose is a sensitive portrait of loss, friendship and the families we choose. . . . A big-hearted novel of love and loss, narrated by a woman grappling with grief while caring for her best friend’s teen daughter.”—Shelf Awareness for Readers

Discussion Questions

This is a novel about friendship among women. Is this also a novel about being friends to ourselves? If so, how?

What role does Stella’s garden play in the novel? What about The Rose Whisperer?

The dock by the lake is the setting for some important scenes. Why does the dock become the cover art and not a garden picture or an image of roses, which are also important to the story?

How are men and male relationships portrayed in this novel?

What does this novel say about mothers and motherhood?

The author has said that best friends “say yes,” that they step up in times of need. Do you agree? Would you have said yes to Stella Rose?

What role do the letters play in this novel? How would the novel be different without them?

What is the importance of names to the main characters?

Abby is surprised that Stella Rose has secrets. Were you? Do you think most people have secrets? Olivia has secrets as well but hers seem less surprising. Why?

Different kinds of love are depicted in this story. Is one more powerful than another? What does love make people do, or not do?

Part of this novel is about physical violence and gun violence. What do the characters learn about themselves as a result of these crises?

Abby overcomes several obstacles personally and professionally in the year in which she becomes a mother. Do you think she will continue to challenge herself? What do you think the future holds for her? Will she always be one of Olivia’s mothers?

Could Abby have become her whole self without the passing of Stella Rose, or without late-in-the-novel conversation with her own mother?

What did you come away with, after reading this novel?