Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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October 6, 2011

McGarry Morris' new 'Light' runs on girl power

Mary McGarry Morris latest book is "Light from a Distant Star"

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.

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