April 2020 Indie Next List
“This beautiful, elegiac novel tells the story of the last homecoming to rural Ohio for Brian, who is dying of AIDS at the height of the 1980s epidemic. Told with empathy and heart, complemented by a pitch-perfect sense of time and place, The Prettiest Star is a deeply affecting story about what it means to understand each other and where we come from, even when our lives have taken us light years away.”
— Ashley Warlick, M. Judson Booksellers & Storytellers, Greenville, SC
One of 2020's most acclaimed books. A Kirkus Best Fiction Book of 2020 - One of O Magazine's Best LGBT Books of 2020 - A Finalist for the Southern Book Prize - One of the Women's National Book Association's 2020 Great Group Reads Selections - EW's 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 - BookRiot - Lambda Literary's - Salon - BookPage's - Garden & Gun's - Logo NewNowNext's
In this "brutally fresh kind of homecoming novel," (Entertainment Weekly) Brian Jackson returns to his small Appalachian hometown and the family who rejected him. Carter Sickels's stunning literary achievement "deserves a place in the canon of AIDS literature alongside the likes of Larry Kramer and Rebecca Makkai" (Los Angeles Review of Books).
The story of Brian's return to small-town Ohio is told in a chorus of voices: Brian's mother Sharon; his fourteen-year-old sister, Jess, as she grapples with her brother's mysterious return; and the video diaries Brian makes to document his final summer. Written in prose that seeks "to answer without flinching away from ugliness and without demonizing the ignorant" (Salon), The Prettiest Star offers an urgent portrait of a family in the center of a national crisis, in order to tell a unique story about the politics and fragility of the body, and to explore the bounds of family and redemption.
About the Author
Carter Sickels is the author of the novel The Evening Hour. He is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award, and has been awarded scholarships to Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, VCCA, and the MacDowell Colony. His essays and fiction have appeared in various publications, including Guernica, Bellevue Literary Review, and BuzzFeed, and he is the editor of Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity. Carter is Assistant Professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches in the Bluegrass Writers Studio Low-Residency MFA program.