When famed Andover author Mary McGarry Morris was thinking of her latest book she knew a heroic girl would tell the story. She even wrote the words "courage" and "heroism" on a slip of paper and pulled them out when she began working on the book, "Light from a Distant Star."
"I really enjoyed writing this one. It's the point of view of a young girl," McGarry Morris said.
Nellie Peck is an endearingly wise 13-year-old, who narrates the story. When a murder happens in the back apartment of her parents' home, Nellie knows the man being blamed did not do it.
But she's just 13. She's gawky and gangly and most proud of her "God-given bullshit detector," like most girls her age. Yet she is silenced by fear when no one believes her, not even her parents. And she's old enough to know a man's life hangs in the balance.
"To get tough at 13 when you are not believed is very hard...girls hold back more than boys. They will accept when they are not believed," said Morris. "It's very emotional for her (Nellie)."
McGarry Morris certainly has a credible background when she says that. She and husband Michael Morris raised five children and now have 14 grandchildren. Five of those grandchildren are girls. McGarry Morris dedicated this book to all of the grandchildren.
Nellie is is full of doubt when she takes the stand at the trial and sees all the non-believers staring at her. In the end, Nellie promises to be a memorable heroine for readers.
McGarry Morris typically uses her books to write about "ordinary people and their stories." She likes to use rural settings as the backdrop when something big happens to characters. This book has that small town-life feel as Nellie learns some big time life lessons.
Publishers Weekly calls the book "a page turner (which evokes "To Kill a Mockingbird) that will satisfy her fans."
Those fans will be at Andover Bookstore on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. as McGarry Morris reads and signs her latest work. The author typically launches her book tours from her hometown bookstore - and the launch for her eighth book will be no different.
LIGHT FROM A DISTANT STAR
Andover author Mary McGarry Morris' new book
Free reading, signing
Thursday, Oct.6, 7 p.m.
Andover Bookstore, 89R Main St.
MARY MCGARRY MORRIS' BOOK BAG
This is her eighth book. Her others:
Vanished, nominated for the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award
A Dangerous Woman, chosen by Time magazine as a top five novel of the year and made into a movie starring Debra Winger
Songs in Ordinary Time, an Oprah's Book Club pick and television movie
A Hole in the Universe
The Lost Mother
The Last Secret