To the Stars through Difficulties is inspired by the fifty-nine Carnegie libraries built in Kansas early in the 20th century.
Andrew Carnegie was the Johnny Appleseed of libraries – but public libraries would never have thrived on the prairie in the early 20th Century if it weren't for the women in small and remote communities who sponsored waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women's baseball games to buy books.
Angelina returns to her father's hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci arrives as artist-in-residence at the renovated Carnegie Arts Center, just when Gayle takes refuge after the devastation of the neighboring town of Prairie Hill by a tornado. Discovery of an old journal provides not only the information Angelina needs to finish her dissertation but also the ammunition to save the Arts Center from attacks by the Religious Righteous and the inspiration for the neighboring and rival town of Prairie Hill to build a cultural center as the first act of reclaiming their lives after the tornado.
"To the Stars Through Difficulties is a gem; an endearing story about redemption and transformation. Tilghman succeeds in capturing the condition of an entire community—as well as the heart of this reader.”
—Heidi W. Durrow, author of the New York Times bestseller The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
"To the Stars Through Difficulties is a deeply charming, wildly inspiring love letter to libraries, to art, to Kanas, to community. Romalyn Tilghman has crafted a glorious quilt of voices here, a beautiful chorus of resilience. Anyone who loves books will find sustenance in these pages.”
—Gayle Brandeis, author of the Bellwether Prize winner The Book of Dead Birds