Shooting Stars

Author: Patricia Leavy
Tess Lee is a novelist. Her inspirational books explore people’s innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite her extraordinary success, she’s been unable to find personal happiness. Jack Miller is a federal agent. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. He’s dedicated everything to his job, leaving nothing for himself. The night Tess and Jack meet, their connection is palpable. She examines the scars on his body and says, “I’ve never seen anyone whose outsides match my insides.” The two embark on an epic love story that asks the questions: What happens when people truly see each other? Can unconditional love change the way we see ourselves? Their friends are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who mysteriously calls her Butterfly; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; and Bobby, Jack’s younger friend who never fails to lighten the mood. Shooting Stars is a novel about walking through our past traumas, moving from darkness to light, and the ways in which love – from lovers, friends, or the art we experience – heals us. Written as unfolding action, Shooting Stars is a poignant novel that moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy. It can be read entirely for pleasure, selected for book clubs, or used as supplemental reading in a variety of courses in communication, psychology, social work, sociology, or women’s studies/gender studies.

Read Patricia Leavy's interview on Shooting Stars with We Are the Real Deal.

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Patricia Leavy, Ph.D., is an award-winning independent sociologist and best-selling author. She has published over 30 books, earning critical and commercial success in both fiction and nonfiction. Her books have been translated into numerous languages.
“One of our favorite writers, Patricia Leavy, is back with a novel that is one of the most important books you’ll ever read. Shooting Stars is one of those books that, once you start, you cannot put down… It’s a story of courage, chosen family, and how love–in all aspects–can help us heal and grow. It has stayed with me, and I cannot stop thinking about the themes, characters, and how we all need more of this goodness in our lives. Read this...you'll be SO glad you did.” – Wandering Educators

“Leavy has done what she does best: write a story that you won’t be able to put down until you finish the final sentence. This book is a shining example of Leavy’s talent for writing characters who we root for, and through them, find the inspiration we need to live our lives in the light. Shooting Stars is a love story about friendship and real romance, but most importantly, it is a story about learning to love ourselves, the most difficult love of all.” – Sandra L. Faulkner, Ph.D., author of Poetic Inquiry: Craft, Method, and Practice

“Straightforward storytelling, when done well, can allow the pathos of a tale to flourish fully. Shooting Stars offers a prime example – one that grabbed and shook me in a way most novels do not. Patricia Leavy’s refreshingly direct narrative voice lulls readers into a sense of cozy familiarity that shatters in an instant, surrounding us with all the horror our minds preserve long after active trauma. I found the story of Tess and Jack uncomfortably resonant and unexpectedly haunting. But the deepest cuts came from Leavy’s frankly audacious creation of space for trauma processing and healing as priorities in daily life, rather than the afterthoughts they often become in a world that expects us to smile through pain. If you have survived abuse, Shooting Stars will bring you face to face with the long shadow of your own suffering and the fear it instilled. It will make you long for spaces as aspirational as the one Leavy creates in which to face that fear – not only in the moments when it swells, but also in the quiet ones when it breathes in shallow gasps deep within. It is this sense of empathy for self that haunts me most after reading, and that will likely linger in surprising ways.” – Alexandra “Xan” Nowakowski, Ph.D., MPH, Florida State University

Shooting Stars is one of the grandest love stories of all time. It contains none of the usual (and silly) formulas – no superhuman hero, no heroine who is impossibly pert while she finds the perfect dress, the perfect shoes, and the best parking spot. Instead, it is a story of love in its many forms: love between couples, among friends, between parents and children, and even love of community and country. It celebrates the power and agency of love to hold its own against the darkest forces of hatred and violence. This is a book that grounds the possibility of hope, love, and healing in our ability, if we will it, to truly see, hear, and accept each other as striving, troubled, imperfect, and ultimately, lovable and loving beings. It will make your heart smile.” – Eve Spangler, Ph.D., Boston College

“Unconditional love is curated in pop culture, with whirlwind romances and fairy tale endings. That love has a dark side, though; we are expected to give up ourselves and our values to love blindly. In Shooting Stars, Patricia Leavy inspires readers to think about how to love unconditionally with integrity: our lovers, our friends, and even ourselves. While Tess Lee and Jack Miller are healing from past trauma, they learn to love each other in extraordinary ways. Along with their friends, they show us what meaningful love actually looks like, and how it makes us more of who we are, not less. This is a wonderful book that you will relish. Read it on your own, in book clubs, or as supplemental reading in social sciences courses.” – Jessica Smartt Gullion, Ph.D., Texas Woman’s University

“Leavy offers a creative and compelling representation of love and friendship, gender norms and expectations, and the relational nuances of trauma. This novel is another critical contribution not only to Leavy’s extensive oeuvre, but also for authors and artists who seek to use fiction in social research.” – Tony E. Adams, Ph.D., Bradley University

Shooting Stars is a beautiful love story – or love stories, as is really the case – for the twenty-first century. In this enticing new novel, Patricia Leavy introduces a cast of characters with different ethnicities, struggles, sexual orientations, and social classes who come together in peace and harmony through a 'bridge called love.' Tess is a kind of modern superwoman who I can love and admire; she is smart, independent, kind, creative, cares for the arts, humanity, and the earth, turning her troubled past into bright futures for others, loving others for who they are, and letting herself fall deeply and vulnerably in love with Jack. No shrinking violet here. Likewise, Jack is a modern superman. While recovering from his war wounds and emotional losses, he is open to loving Tess, committed to helping her, and deeply supportive of her projects, friendships, and successes. No toxic masculinity here. In fact, while predators lurk in the shadows, in the foreground we bear witness to a cast of good men, those who model what masculinity might look like when grounded in compassion and caring. We need Shooting Stars now because it shows that the way between the dark and the light is a 'bridge called love.' For so many of us, perhaps all of us, life is challenging as we learn to live through and with trauma, grief, and loss. Shooting Stars shows us how to thrive through unconditional love. Read this book – it will crack your heart wide open.” – Laurel Richardson, Ph.D., author of Lone Twin

Shooting Stars is the start of an amazing new turn in the fiction of Patricia Leavy that builds on her previous themes of identity and seeing beyond the surface of people’s lives. This novel defies category. It grabs hold of your emotions from the opening line and doesn’t let you go, even long after you turn the last page. Leavy writes about abuse in ways that are as devastating as they are realistic, delving into the lifelong impact that childhood trauma has on its victims. Yet this is also a tale of the healing power of love, a love that comes in many forms and finds its way to us through the most surprising people. This is a rare story that demonstrates the ways in which good things come to good people, and how the universe finds balance to the horrors that have the ability to sink us. Her most explicit romance and her most powerful work to date, this is one for every classroom and community group, taking you on a rollercoaster of emotions but leaving you with a brighter sense of the world and the people who quietly make it better.” – U. Melissa Anyiwo, Ph.D., Curry College

“I really loved this book. Leavy’s writing is realistic and compassionate. Shooting Stars is not just a novel, it’s a heartfelt story of love, grief, friendship, and survival that will make you laugh, cry, and most of all, feel truly alive.” – J. E. Sumerau, Ph.D., The University of Tampa

Shooting Stars is one of those novels that draws you into its heart and holds you there tightly, as you eagerly move through its contours to discover the fates of characters you have come to deeply care about. Patricia Leavy has once again managed to weave her magic through a story that touches on hugely important themes and critical contemporary issues. At first blush, the book appears to be an enjoyable chick-lit romantic adventure, but this is where Leavy’s brilliance comes into play. This is actually a work of accomplished arts-based research, one which is deceptively accessible and deeply theoretical. The proactive reader will note the theory in the story, yet also be pleasured by its potent, aesthetically posed and convincing scenes, elegant and clean writing, and three-dimensional characters. I read it with gusto, called back to it again and again to sit with it and immerse myself in Tess’s world. I wanted to know more about her life, her motivations, and her experiences. I found myself eagerly reading to the end, feeling disappointed when I had finished – such is the power of Leavy’s writing. This is quite possibly Leavy’s best work to date, and I am hungry for more.” – Alexandra Lasczik, Ph.D., Southern Cross University

Shooting Stars will touch readers’ lives in important ways. An accessible text for scholars in a wide array of academic fields, this love story conveys and explores the power of interaction and relationship as they shape and reshape characters, relational bonds, and love. Quite simply, this latest offering from Patricia Leavy is a labor of love. It is well worth reading.” – Keith Berry, Ph.D., University of South Florida

“A few years ago, I stumbled upon Patricia Leavy’s ‘An Open Letter to the Facebook Friend Who Thinks My Life is Perfect.’ I was so drawn in by the writing of the author who wrote this impactful piece, that although it was out of character, I reached out to Patricia to learn more about her writing. Three years later, my uncharacteristic act has gifted me with access to several of her works to utilize with my students in the classroom setting. They, too, have fallen in love with Dr. Leavy’s writing. It is hard to imagine, having read so much of her work for both pleasure and academic guidance, that the standard Leavy has set for social fiction could reach any higher, but Shooting Stars has done just that. This healing story has left an indelible mark on my soul. I am thrilled to finally have a resource that will serve both as a learning tool for students and a healing tool for anyone who has experienced trauma.” – Renita M. Davis, LICSW, PIP, Troy University
Acknowledgements

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15

Epilogue: Four Months Later
Suggested Classroom or Book Club Use
Author Q&A
About the Author
All interested in Communication, Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, Women’s and Gender Studies, and General Readers.