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Light from a Distant Star
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Light from a Distant Star

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  713 ratings  ·  159 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Crown (first published 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,725)
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Linda
This book annoyed me to say the least. It took to page 140 or so of the 326 pages for this book to get going. Dispensing the first 100 would be an improvement. The parents in this book taught and raised Nellie to have integrity, tell the truth and do what is right. When she wants to do just that, she is told that she can't because it will upset her parents plans to climb out of financial dispair. All the while a man sits in jail for a crime Nellie knows he may not have committed.

Parenting is not
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Judith
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 o
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Diane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristen
After finishing this masterful novel, I'm feeling incredibly illiterate for someone who reads as much as I do. Mary McGarry Morris wrote Songs in Ordinary Time, A Hole in the Universe, and other acclaimed books that I've never read.

This is part of why I love Goodreads - I enter the contests for books that look interesting, by authors that I've heard good things about... and then, when I win a book (yay!) I read them and my world expands a bit.

Light from a Distant Star perfectly captures the no
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Jennifer W
You know those kids that are too grown up for their age, but also too socially clueless to know it? They're kids that when you have a group together of kids and parents that even the adults go out of their way to avoid them because they're obnoxious, boring, and trying too hard? That's our main character, Nellie. I don't think that's how she was meant to be as a character, but that's how I found her. Maybe it doesn't help that the adults around her are clueless, too. Her father, who's supposed t ...more
Veronica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie Brody
Nellie Peck is thirteen years old going on forty. She is wise, intelligent and impulsive. Despite her precociousness, however, she is still a child. She lives with her parents and two siblings, Ruth and Henry. Ruth is a half-sibling from a relationship that her mother had in high school. The Pecks are struggling financially. Sandy, Nellie's mother, works as a hair dresser and Benjamin, Nellie's father, owns a hardware store that is slowly going under. Benjamin's passion is his writing - he is wr ...more
Amandaj
I received this book for free from goodreads giveaways. Originally I was really excited about reading this book. But once I started reading it, that excitement fizzled. I was lucky the book survived at all since it was delivered on a day when it was raining like mad crazy. I had to wait for the book to dry out before I could start reading it. Surprisingly enough the book is only slightly wrinkled and crinkled.
I had a hard time gaining interest in this book for the first hundred pages or so. The
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Louise
Story Description:

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. His family's century old hardware store is failing and Nellie's mother has had to g
...more
Carol N
This is an incredibly moving novel that gives the reader a timely look at small town life. The author has beautifully drawn her characters, ones who will continue to be with you -long after having finished the book. From the very first time I met her, I, like many other readers, became enamored with smart and plunky Nellie. Never dull, always real, this book covers one summer and fall in Nellie's life. Loved what I called the "Okay to be a Kid" moments - building a tree house with odds and ends ...more
Rachael
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I found Nellie (the main character) not a precocious young lady, as she is represented in the book jacket, but wholly unbelievable as someone who claims to be "doing the right thing". The story-line about a family struggling to get by was drawn-out and not presented in a way that made it relate-able to the audience.

Maybe I'm being harsh and didn't really give the book a fair shot. But I hated the style of writing used by the author. She co
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Diane S.
3 1/2 Nellie is a young girl who always tries to do the right thing. She is also nosy and listens at doors and hides behind bushes to find out what is going on in the adult world. She ends up involved in a murder, where she knows more than she should, this leads to a trial and a conclusion she is not satisfied with. Enjoyed reading about Nellie, though the plot got bogged down in places, but did enjoy the story. Probably would have enjoyed it more had I not been wanting to get back to Night Circ ...more
Diane
Love this author. In this case, the narrator is Nellie, stuck in that terrible stage of adolescence when no one takes you seriously. Even if you know that an innocent man is accused of murder. Nellie's faith in her own intuition, combined with the blinders of her inexperience, is perfectly evoked. I didn't even think of "To Kill a Mockingbird" as I read this, although that comparison seems prevalent.
Anne Jordan-Baker
Zoe loved this book from beginning to end. Kathy and I thought it started out so slow we wanted to stop reading. It was worth sticking with. I ended up thinking the story was great and the characters and relationships very believable and interesting. Definitely a book that taught me something new about people, families, identity, and identity development.
Tara
Mary McGarry Morris' lyrical writing in her latest book is breath-taking. It almost made me forget that I was reading a tragedy- Nellie is a character you wish you could protect from her world, as its falling apart around her. A must read!
Olga Hebert
Nellie Peck has a long summer ahead of her. She has to take charge of her younger brother Henry while her mother works at a hair salon. The Peck hardware store is losing the battle with big box stores, but her father doesn't even seem to notice, involved as hi is in writing the complete history of Springvale. She does her best, based on what she knows. Sometimes what she knows is not the whole picture--she hides letters to her older sister that come from the sister's birth father in Australia. S ...more
Jane
I loved this book. Nellie grabbed my heart and never let go. The adults were very frustrating but my emotional reaction to them just emphasises how good this book reads.
Nancy
This was a very long, drawn out book about a 13 year old busy body. Nellie was always eavesdropping or watching someone secretly. When caught she would get in trouble, but it didn't stop her. There was a murder in the story, but the focus on Nellie's bad habits seemed to make the murder less important. Yes, her eavesdropping and spying may have led them to the real killer, but we'll never know. I was disappointed with the end because several loose ends were not tied up. What happened to Max? Wha ...more
wanda
Great story of courage from a 13 year old girl in an adult world.
Caitlin
Simultaneously engrossing and infuriating.
RNOCEAN
I have read every book that Mary McGarry Morris has written and will continue to do so, however, I can only give this book 3 stars out of 5. The parents in this book taught and raised Nellie to have integrity, tell the truth and do what is right. When she wants to do just that, no one will believe her. The father that she adored was a very weak man and I thought for the most part, ineffective as a parent. The mother seems to shoulder the weight of the whole family on her shoulders because of a w ...more
Lisa B.
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 sur
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Wendy Hines
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 whil
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Peggy
This is a murder mystery and a coming of age book about Nellie, a 13 year old girl, her little brother, Henry and her half sister, Ruth. Add to the mix some disfunctional parents: her dad, owner of the family hardware store and her mom, a beautician forced back to work by the less than successful store her dad runs half-heartedly.

To make ends meet, Nellie's mom, Sandy, rents a small apartment to a friend's neice, who is a stripper and exotic dancer named Dolly Bedelia. Dolly is actually a fairl
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Melissa Armato
I expected more of this novel. The description was entrancing, like I must read this book! But it did disappoint just a little bit. I expected a fast-paced cover to cover, can't put this down read, but it wasn't as captivating as I'd hoped. The book was well written, had a good story line but it started to drag near the middle, right before the climax of the story. I was hardly motivated to move on from that point but persevered. I am glad I did , for the conclusion was a good one. I would recom ...more
Marcia A
I liked the novel, the first I have read by this author. Family saga, with lots of drama and dysfunction, but this one eventually involves a murder and a smart 13 year old girl who is very much on her own.

Amazon's book description (Is it okay if I copy this? I was thinking it would be helpful for those who are reading the Goodreads updates.):

"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
...more
kylajaclyn
3 1/2 stars for this bittersweet tapestry of innocence lost.

What a beautiful novel! I love coming-of-age stories, and this is right up there with the best of them.

Nellie Peck is a curious 13-year-old with a habit of eavesdropping. This summer of her thirteenth year, things heat up with the arrival of some very colorful characters into her life. Among these are Max Devaney, a former criminal, Dolly Bedelia, an exotic dancer, and Bucky Stalonstall, a mean bully that is Nellie's age. Nellie's ten
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Elizabeth
13-year-old Nellie opens the door to the rental apartment and finds her family's tenant dead. The man standing beside her was convicted of a sexual crime and had a crush on the dead woman. Several hours before, Nellie saw the very married Mr Cooper with scratches on his face and furtiveness in his gestures near the tenant's front door. Nellie knew he'd been visiting the tenant in the middle of the night, buying her expensive things and taking her to secluded places on his boat and that recently ...more
Sandie
LIGHT FROM A DISTANT STAR by Mary McGarry Morris is written from the point of view of thirteen year old Nellie Peck a girl whose insight and emotional maturity belies her chronological age. While Nellie's eyesight is faulty, her intuitive ability to discern the true nature of a situation and grasp the real motivation behind the actions of others is spot on.

All is not well at the Peck home. The family hardware store is failing due to dad Benjamin's disinterest, mom has been forced to take a job o
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Mandy
First, I would like to state that I won this via the Goodreads First Reads program.

I loved this book, and as many people have included excellent synposis in previous reviews I am going to restrict myself to discuss my impressions.

This book was easy to get into, setting the scene, introducing characters at a nice pace. I was impressed with the character development, the shades of grey that we carry as human beings very evident. The characters were credible because the reader got to see the good s
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As the author of several novels, Mary McGarry Morris has received considerable attention from critics and readers, as well as from prestigious awards panels.
Her books are noted for their depictions of mentally and emotionally impaired individuals who have difficulty coping with an inhospitable world.
As New York Times Book Review contributor Alice McDermott put it, “Morris does not devise plots,
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More about Mary McGarry Morris...
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