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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Light from a Distant Star

Mary McGarry Morris’s latest is a coming of age novel set in a small New England town. Morris is perhaps best known for Songs in Ordinary Time (Viking, 1995), which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 1997. It too includes a young teen afraid to tell the dark truth about an adult in his life. (Although it is a much darker story than Light from a Distant Star.)

MORRIS, Mary McGarry. Light from a Distant Star. 336p. Crown. 2011. Tr $25. ISBN 978-0-307-45186-6. LC number unavailable.  Light from a Distant Star

Adult/High School–Thirteen year-old Nellie has a built-in instinct about knowing people. That’s why she knows that the ex-con, Max, is a good person. And she knows that her own father, Benjamin Peck, is the most noble and intelligent man in their small town. But when the “ditzy pole dancer,” Dolly Bedelia, moves into the small rental apartment attached to the Pecks’ home, all Nellie can see is that Dolly’s breathless glamour will bring a welcome distraction to the long summer days. Distraction does come quickly, but in the unwelcome act of murder, followed by a hasty arrest and important evidence that only Nellie can reveal. It seems, however, that all of Nellie’s attempts to do the right thing just get her into trouble, and she has a reputation as a liar. Teens will readily identify with the true awkwardness of age 13, the time when one is alternately “old enough to know better,” and “too young to understand.” Readers receive key pieces of information through Nellie’s hungry efforts at spying, eavesdropping, and reading other people’s mail. Yet it’s always evident that her naiveté is blocking her ability to truly understand the turbulent events about her. Morris possesses the ability to speak for those who struggle to find a voice in greater society while creating an intriguing plot to keep the pages rolling.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.