If you could see yourself as others saw you, would you be any closer to the truth of who you really are? In the tradition of Olive Kitteridge and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, Astra is a beguiling debut novel that reveals the different faces of one enigmatic woman, as seen through the eyes of ten people she encounters over the course of six decades.
Raised on a remote BC commune by a neglectful father, Astra Brine eventually leaves for Calgary, where she struggles to find her way in the world, her life becoming a study of the thin line between dependence and love, need and desire. As her path intersects with others--often only briefly, but always intensely--she will encounter people who, by turns, want to rescue, control, become, change, and escape her, revealing difficult yet shining truths about who they are and what they yearn for. There is the childhood playmate who comes to fear Astra's unpredictable ways; the stranger who rescues her from homelessness and then has to wrestle with his own demons; the mother who hires Astra as a babysitter even as her own marriage goes off the rails; the man who takes a leap of faith and marries her.
Even as Astra herself remains the elusive yet compelling axis around which these narratives turn, her story reminds us of the profound impact that an individual can have on those around her, and the power struggles at play in all our relationships, no matter how intimate. A beautifully constructed and revelatory novel, Astra explores what we're willing to give and receive from others, and how well we ever really know the people we love the most.
CEDAR BOWERS's fiction has been published in Joyland and Taddle Creek. Astra is her first novel. With her husband, novelist Michael Christie, and their two children, she divides her time between Galiano Island, where she grew up, and Victoria.