Friday, August 3, 2012

Light From A Distant Star by Mary McGarry Morris

From Goodreads: 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. His family’s century old hardware store is failing and Nellie’s mother has had to go back to work. Nellie’s older half-sister has launched a disturbing search for her birth father. Often saddled through the long, hot days with her timid younger brother, Henry, Nellie is determined to toughen him up. And herself as well.

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. A stunning evocation of innocence lost, Light from a Distant Star stands as an incredibly moving and powerful novel from one of America's finest writers.

Nellie Peck is the middle child, having an older sister, Ruth, and a younger brother, Henry.  Her mom is a hairdresser and her dad owns a hardware store.  His dream though is to finish his novel that he has been writing for years about the history of their town.  While he is dreaming, it's getting harder and harder for them to make ends meet.  So, they rent out a three room apartment that is on the back of their house.

Nellie ends up spending much of her summer watching out for her brother Henry while her parents struggle to survive.  In doing so, she meets a new tenant, a pole dancer, Dolly.  She's beautiful and elusive.  There's a new boy in town, Bucky, who Nellie and Henry befriend, but Bucky could get them into real trouble if they aren't careful.  Then there is Max, the man staying in the loft of the Pecks' grandfather, Charlie's, junkyard.  When one of the new people that Nellie has met over the summer winds up dead, she knows who did it.  The problem is that no one believes her.

Light From A Distant Star is a compelling tale of family, secrets, murder and growing up.  Mary McGarry Morris has a knack for storytelling and you will find yourself entranced with the Peck family and those whose lives intercept them.  From start to finish, the story unfolds at a steady pace, leaving behind memorable characters and a lasting impression.  I loved it!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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