Monday, September 5, 2011

Light from a Distant Star: A NovelLight from a Distant Star: A Novel by Mary McGarry Morris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Light from a Distant Star is a gripping coming-of-age story with a brutal murder at its heart and a heroine as unforgettable as Harper Lee’s "Scout."

It is early summer and Nellie Peck is on the cusp of adolescence – gangly, awkward, full of questions, but keenly observant and wiser than many of the adults in her life. The person she most admires is her father, Benjamin, a man of great integrity. Three strangers enter Nellie’s protected life. Brooding Max Devaney is an ex-con who works in her surly grandfather’s junkyard. Reckless Bucky Saltonstall has just arrived from New York City to live with his elderly grandparents. And pretty Dolly Bedelia is a young stripper who rents the family’s small, rear apartment and becomes the titillating focus of Nellie’s eavesdropping.

When violence erupts in the lovely Peck house, the prime suspect seems obvious. Nellie knows who the real murderer is, but is soon silenced by fear and the threat of scandal. The truth, as she sees it, is shocking and unthinkable, and with everyone’s eyes riveted on her in the courtroom, Nellie finds herself seized with doubt.
No one will listen. No one believes her, and a man’s life hangs in the balance.

My thoughts on the book:

The main character, Nellie, is a thirteen year old with a pretty wry sense of humor as she observes what goes on around her. I feel like this is Nellie’s first exposure to the adult adage “do as I say, not as I do” and it is very difficult for her. The whole time I was reading the latter part of the book, I kept thinking – what is Nellie going to do about this? She wants so bad to tell the truth – do what’s right – as she has been raised, but she also doesn’t want to disappoint the adults in her life.

I also felt that this was Nellie’s first encounter with the concept that her parents, especially her Dad, make mistakes. I still remember when this happened to me, thinking – holy smokes - seriously? Now what do we do? To a certain age, I think all kids think there parent no it all, have all the right answers and ALWAYS do the right thing. Alas, life is just not that easy.

This was the first book I have read by this author. I was impressed by her style and ability to weave a tale. I would not hesitate to recommend this book or to read more from this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishers for allowing me to read this ARC. I am honored

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