Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Starlite Drive-In” as Want to Read:
The Starlite Drive-In
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Starlite Drive-In

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  440 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Start with a drive-in movie theater in the 1950s. Add a starstruck and lonely 12-year-old girl and a handsome drifter, and you have all the makings for a coming-of-age romance . . . a fine first novel from an author to be reckoned with."--"Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Berkley Trade (first published January 1st 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Starlite Drive-In, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Sonia Reppe Hi Linda, Do you like these books because of the time period and how all of these books capture the time period so well? If that is what you are…moreHi Linda, Do you like these books because of the time period and how all of these books capture the time period so well? If that is what you are looking for I would recommend The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig. Also try Ten Cents A Dance by Christine Fletcher.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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.
Lorraine Peters
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
excellent just had to keep going no matter how tired wow what an ending shocker
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was suspenseful and kept me wanting to read more. The Starlite Drive-In
Jan 13, 2012 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 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was ok

I liked the depiction of Callie Anne and Teal's relationship, and the sense of a specific place and time. I found Claude Junior's character to be pretty two dimensional, and I also did not believe someone would be capable of changing from being an obvious bully and abusive personality to no longer behaving like one just because they got a lecture from the wife they have no respect for.

Ending with Callie as an adult was a letdown in a couple of ways. It was anti-climactic because of course we
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
A coming-of-age story based on a 1950s drive-in in a small Indiana town and a James Dean-type drifter who comes on the scene with tragic consequences for him and the marriage of the parents of the narrator, who is looking back on events from decades later after the discovery of bones on the site. It’s realistic and the writing is smooth but it’s not totally involving as the tragedy takes a long while to develop.
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 rated it really liked it
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 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
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-loved
Browsing a used book store and the cover caught my attention (The one with the girl by the car in front of the Drive-In). 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 mo ...more
Carol N
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 08, 2015 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing
**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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Along the Watchtower
  • The Cheerleader (The Snowy Series, #1)
  • The Chase (Crime Scene: Houston, #1)
  • The Downside of Being Charlie
  • Nocturna: Die Nacht der gestohlenen Schatten
  • Well-Offed in Vermont (Pret’ Near Perfect Mystery #1)
  • Vamps: Deadly Women of the Night
  • A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House
  • Pure Love, Pure Life: Exploring God's Heart on Purity
  • Lethal Harvest (Bioethics #1)
  • The Boy Project: Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister
  • Vernon House
  • The Light of the Falling Stars
  • The Sound of Red Returning (Red Returning Trilogy #1)
  • Sex Lies and Bonsai
  • Feeding Ground
  • Serendipity
  • A Greyhound of a Girl

Fiction Deals

  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Chasing the Sun
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Hidden
    $3.99 $2.00
  • Jubilee
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Where We Fall
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Over the Plain Houses
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Mustard Seed
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Count Belisarius
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Memory of Things
    $7.80 $2.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.24 $1.99
  • To Hold the Crown: The Story of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York (Tudor Saga, #1)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • A House for Happy Mothers
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Lace Makers of Glenmara
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Quaker Café (Quaker Café #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Whiskey Rebels
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Honest Spy
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Gone Crazy in Alabama (Ala Notable Children's Books. Middle Readers)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • We Are All Made of Stars
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Mercer Girls
    $4.99 $1.99
  • While the World Is Still Asleep (The Century Trilogy Book 1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • Tulip Fever
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.: A Novel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • 600 Hours of Edward
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Prayers for the Stolen
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Daughters of Palatine Hill
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Very Valentine
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Cellar
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Clouds (Glenbrooke, #5)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Ireland
    $10.49 $2.99
  • Funland
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The Comfort of Strangers
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Endless Night
    $4.49 $0.99