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The Starlite Drive-In: A Novel

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  416 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
“A captivating novel.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Reynolds creates a genuine and engaging young narrator…and maintains heat and suspense on every page.”
Detroit Free Press

A mystery, a coming of age novel, a tragic love story, a rich evocation of a memorable time and place in America, The Starlite Drive-In by Marjorie Reynolds is all of these things and more. The author retur
Published 1997 by William Morrow
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Mar 17, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This small, unobtrusive 1997 paperback is easy to overlook. At first glance it appears to be one of those "fluff" romance novels that are used primarily as a means of escape. Had I myself come across The Starlite Drive-In most likely, I would have dismissed it without bothering to read the back cover. Fortunately, my mother picked it up during an after-Christmas browse through Bellevue's branch of the University of Washington bookstore. Although the writing is not polished or poetic, the story i ...more
A nostalgic 1950's coming of age story entwined with the complexities and eccentricities woven into family relationships and the ties that bind people together or cage them like birds with clipped wings. Told by Callie Ann, as a flashback from the year she turned thirteen - summer of fairy-tale heroes, defining love, and murder; the story instantly presses upon the reader like the heatwave Indiana summer the story is set in, and doesn't release its grip until the last page. Each character, as tr ...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Callie Anne wasn’t looking forward to yet another boring summer at the drive-in theater her father managed, but was it really going to be boring?

Callie Anne was pleasantly surprised that this summer was completely unlike any other summer once Memphis arrived. She was twelve, and Memphis was a drifter that had been hired to help her father with some of the chores at the drive-in. Callie Anne was enamored by Memphis, but didn't like how he seemed to care for her mother more than he cared for her.
Nov 06, 2010 Elke rated it really liked it
I came by this book by accident, as it was lying in a box marked "to take away for free". The description on the back cover sounded interesting, what with the story taking place at a drive-inn theater, so I thought I'd give it a try. I finished this book fast and really enjoyed reading it. The story was unusual (at least for me) and though I knew the solution to the crime very soon, I was wondering how it all came to this end.
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
I wasn't there when they dug up the bones at the old drive-in theater, but I heard about them within the hour. In a small town, world travels like heat lightning across a parched summer sky. Irma Schmidt phoned Aunt Bliss and delivered the news with such volume that her voice carried across the kitchen to where I was sitting.

After hanging up the receiver, Aunt Bliss peered at me through her thick bifocals. "With all those farms around there, they could be the bones of some animal."

I picked up th
Jan 13, 2012 JudithAnn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful account of rural USA in the 1950s. The Formica tables are in place and the soda fountains not far away. Poor Callie Anne is living an isolated life in the summer that Charlie Memphis appears. School’s out and Callie Anne sees her school mates only when they come to see a movie in her father’s drive-in cinema, but they are not real friends of her.

Both she and her mother take a liking to Charlie Memphis. In fact, Callie Anne dreams of marrying him. But he is wooing her agorapho
Mary Tonks
Sep 12, 2016 Mary Tonks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Told as a flashback by the main character, author Marjorie Reynolds keeps you guessing as to the identity of the crime victim. Callie Anne's childhood recollections are typical of a 12 year old, but also very interesting, sometimes frightening. This story moves at a very quick pace...excellent writing!
Jan 05, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a book evokes a time and a place so well, the reader feels like she's been dropped into it. That is the feeling I had reading Marjorie Reynold's The Starlite Drive-in.

Set in the hot, dusty summer of 1956 in a small Indiana town, I felt like I had to turn on the air conditioning to cool off, even though it was a cold winter day in New York City where I was reading the novel.

The book opens in the 1990s, where human remains are found at the old drive-in that Callie Anne's dad ran in the 1
Land developers find the skeletal remains buried at the site of the old Starlite Drive-In theater. As news of the discovery reach Callie Ann Benton she rushes to the site. Being a small town, Callie Ann knows the sheriff quite well and he allows her to view the scene and the small amount of evidence that had been buried with the body. Immediately, Callie Ann knows who it is as she remembers a summer 36 years ago.

In 1956, the summer before she was to turn 13, Callie Ann lived with her mother and
Kelly Hager
Jan 15, 2012 Kelly Hager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the novel opens, bones are found at the old Starlite Drive-In. Callie Anne is the only one who knows who the dead person is. The bulk of the story takes place in 1956, when Callie Anne is just a child. Her dad is a hard person to live with and he's pretty regularly mean to her and to her mom. He manages the Starlite and the owner has just hired a drifter (Charlie Memphis) to come in and help out. It doesn't take long before Callie Anne has a crush on him, but it's soon pretty obvious that C ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the summer of 1956, a drifter arrived at the Starlite Drive-In. Callie Anne Benton's father manages and runs the theater, taking care of the day-to-day maintenance and obligations. But a recent injury has left him bitter and crippled. Nothing much changes in Callie Anne's daily routine. Not until Charlie Memphis arrives. The owner of the drive-in brings him in to help out, a general handyman if you will. Young Callie Anne is smitten by the stranger. And for Callie Anne's mother, who hasn't le ...more
Carol N
Sep 28, 2015 Carol N rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very well-written coming of age novel. I must admit I selected this book for its title. For you see I, too, had a Starlite Drive-in in my younger live. It turned out to be a very good choice on my part. Summer 1956 - rural Indiana, a handsome drifter, Charlie Memphis, arrives at the rundown drive - in movie looking for odd jobs and the lives of Callie Annie and her parents are changed forever. The author, Marjorie Reynolds with her easy flowing writing style presents the reader with a clear pi ...more
Sonia Reppe
Well, I couldn't resist this book as it has 3 things that I love in a novel: a young girl character (12 going on 13); set in summer; takes place in 1950's. Add in a James Dean-type character and I'm going to love it. Do you hear me, my goodreads friends? If you know of a book like this, recommend it to me, please! I never get any recommendations wah wah! Ok, enough crying.

This was actually found on my Goodreads recommendations. One out of every 35 books they recommend for me actually hits the m
Apr 18, 2015 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-loved
Browsing a used book store and the cover caught my attention. With a couple others in hand I kept going back to this one. I ended up putting one down and picking up this one and I'm so glad I went with my instinct. LOVED IT...for me it was a page turner. Her descriptions of things as a young girl viewing things with fresh curious eyes was right on. I felt like I WAS this young girl. Then on the other hand I am actually the age of the mother and in ways could put myself in her place with the thin ...more
Feb 03, 2012 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is 1956 and Callie Anne Benton is thirteen years old and is going to spend another boring summer at the drive-in that her dad manages. But then a drifter name Charlie Memphis appears and helps them and Callie’s life will never be the same.

The story begins with the discovery of human remains at the old drive-in theater which Forces Callie to think about her life some thirty-six years earlier when she was at the cusp of womanhood. This nostalgic coming of age story is a delight and I enjoyed re
Jul 05, 2012 Jayme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book for over six months and picked it up because I wanted to read a little something after reading a pretty heavy book. What I thought would be an easy beach read turned into a well-crafted tale of love and mystery with a distinct sense of place.
From the opening line, "I wasn't there when they dug-up the bones at the old drive-in theater, but I heard about them within the hour" I was hooked. If you are looking for a book that is quick to read, but is thought-provoking, read this
Melissa Wright
I picked this book up a my local dollar tree and added to my ever growing list of books to read, Callie Anne is a 12 year old girl stuck in rural Indiana living in a house that is on her dad's drive in movie theater that her dad manages, her dad is strick and her mother named Teal is a hermit that is afriad to step outside her own front door. the summer holds discoveries, one herself, two her mother and her father and a man named Charlie Memphis.
Mar 07, 2009 Jane rated it really liked it
Call me crazy, but I'm really digging these books told by 13-year-olds. The book jacket says this one has tones of Mockingbird, but that connection is minor at best. This is the story of a girl whose father runs a drive-in in Indiana in the 50s, and the family lives on the grounds. The dad is a mean bugger and the mom is agoraphobic. Strange, yes, but I really enjoyed this book. I like Reynolds' style, that's for sure.
May 18, 2012 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**Spoiler Alert** I really liked this book. I can tell because I wanted to read it at other times of the day instead of just at night when I normally read. I have to admit that I kind of wished for a Hollywood ending where the mom goes with Charlie Memphis but it was more realistic especially in that day and age for what really happened.
Liesa spring
Feb 15, 2008 Liesa spring rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book, in the closet at the top of the stairs when we lived in redmond i believe the summer after 6th grade. anywho i would read it at night in my stuffy loft bedroom when Family Guy and Futurama was over and there was nothing good on Nick at Night. oh this book, so good. soo good. the characters are great, the plot is curvy and the ending surprised me and just great!
Rachel Cieplucha
Nov 18, 2014 Rachel Cieplucha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2015 Gabgab rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly evoking the 50's circuit and the memory of To Kill A Mockingbird, The Starlite Drive-in is a captivating novel encapsulating the summer Callie Anne's and her parents' life had changed. Beautiful, moving, profound and at times sad, this has moved me to tears without the frequent sentimentality brought out by mainstream coming-of-age. Love it!
Feb 07, 2015 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A coming of age story with colorful characters. Parent's marriage: Father gives up his dreams due to wife who can't go outside of house. Drifter works at drive-in. Wife wants more. Husband deals with situation in a savage manner.
Mar 05, 2015 Ginger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was nostalgic for me because it is set in rural Indiana. A lot of the names were familiar to me. Because of this I had a certain feel for the story I otherwise might not have had. I did like the book, although I felt it wasn't fully developed.
Jan 31, 2008 Janet rated it really liked it
This is a good "memory" book for those in my age group who remember the old drive-in theaters. The language was a little offensive at times but the story is well written and is a fast read. Was hard to put it down.
Nov 13, 2014 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This remains one of my all-time favorite books. A young tomboy is growing up in rural Indiana in the 1950's, and her father runs the drive-in theater. Their lives change forever when a drifter named Charlie Memphis is hired on at the drive-in.
fell in love with Charlie Memphis from the garden scene. the words lead you to hold on to everything he says and maybe that's why even though you know how it ends, you'll still find yourself disbelieving in the end.
Apr 03, 2009 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for my reading group at the assisted care center. It was an okay story. A little mystery, a little coming-of-age, a little family dynamics. Not outstanding, but not bad.
Jun 17, 2010 Christa rated it it was amazing
A book I would read again. A retelling of events so vividly it takes you back to make that summer feel like the present time.
Sep 22, 2011 Brooke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While this story does handle issues of "confinement and entrapment," coming of age, and family dynamics quite well, it was just too predicable to be that great.
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