Short Stories 366:309 — “Three Stars in the Sky,” by Stacey Agdern

Even before Hallowe’en passed us by, I began my traditional dive into holiday short(er) fiction because 2020 was being, well, 2020 and this year I’ve had some great luck in finding some stories outside the usual Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, I don’t discount the two holidays, but I’m all for spreading the love out elsewhere, and so as soon as I heard about Love All Year: A Holidays Anthology, I was more-or-less over the moon to have a new option to dive into (especially as it’s an anthology). Put simply, it’s an anthology of holiday romance stories, but we’re not just talking Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The first story, “Three Stars in the Sky,” leads off with a tale about a Jewish country singer (and rising star), a songwriter with whom he has history (and, let’s be clear, not a great history), and their agencies putting them together to try to create a new hit song (or more than one) to release an album that’s Jewish, country, and—can’t stress this enough—a really, really big success. Given that he stood her up for prom without any notice, and they’ve not seen each other since in years, things might be a tad awkward, but he’s counting on trying again, and is hoping tying his music—and his apology—to Sukkot.

This story was as much about making music, following the muses, and giving each other room to have feelings as it was about the romance between the two, and as a whole I think it worked, with more of a gentle touch than scorch. I appreciated that, as well as reading more about Sukkot (a holiday I’ve got only a bare-bones understanding of, myself, and certainly haven’t read as a central holiday in a story before). It’s a romance short story, so you know things will end well, but I truly appreciated how much the narrative underlined “I can apologize, but she doesn’t have to accept it” as a message (which is very counter to Christian stories where characters are often considered to be doing ill if they don’t immediately turn around and offer second chances).

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