Light from a Distant Star: A Novel by Mary McGarry Morris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The summer of Nellie Peck's thirteenth year is fraught with peril, and the impending vagaries of adulthood.
The family hardware business is failing, and dad (Benjamin) is busy writing a history of the town, while the family finances go haywire. Mom has to go back to work to pay the bills which leads to stressful family situations. Half-sister Ruth embarks on a search for her birth father, and little brother Henry becomes Nellie's responsibility. In an effort to toughen him up, she resorts to an old WWI hand-to-hand combat manual. Add cantankerous Grandpa, keeper of the town junkyard, and his hired man, Max, the loner.....and the stage is just about set for trouble.
When the Peck's tenant, Dolly is found dead.....all eyes turn toward Max..it doesn't help that she was a stripper by trade. However, Nellie knows that max is innocent....she even knows the identity of the real killer. Or does she? And how is she going to tell her "truth" and convince everyone when it would mean accusing an upstanding pillar of the community..the very person able to save her family from financial ruin? Oh, the quandary.....oh, the lack of credibility.
I've been a fan of Mary McGarry Morris' work for quite some time....and this, her take on To Kill a Mockingbird is, in my opinion, a success. While her prose is not as elegant as Harper Lee's..the story is set in the present day, where elegance is not a requirement...Nellie Peck is not Scout Finch, but Scout didn't have the media and Pop culture distractions that are part of Nellie's life. Nellie's dilemma is part and parcel of adolescence itself...the lack of credibility we all feel when on the verge of adulthood.
Maybe life was easier in the 1950s...but when Nellie eventually has her say, she does so with heart...even though the outcome is not victorious....most of the characters do survive and live their lives. Not perfectly.
***This was a Net Galley***