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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Melodie Starkey's View from the Closet Doorway

Melodie Starkey is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. I've read and reviewed a few of her books now, and each one is different. Yet they all carry a true sensitivity to people who have differences ... people who face the same questions and worries and goals that most do.

View from the Closet Doorway tells of the lives of three teenagers finding their way through high school. Two are twins: a sister and brother who could not be more different. The third is the best friend of the brother, a girl whose family lifestyle is remarkably different than that of the twins.

Starkey handles the differences among the adults as sensitively as she does those of the teens. At the age of sixteen, the teens are just beginning to peer ahead at what follows high school; presumably in their late thirties, the adults are finding that 'happily ever after' may not be what it once seemed.

There are grandparents with differences as well, but they play a minor role in this story. The real focus is on Sullivan, the brother who wishes he was a part of the family next door, his friend Kate's family. For in her house, Sully is comfortable in his own skin ... he enjoys the laid-back role that her father takes, playing his music, cultivating his life-long friends, who seem like holdovers from the sixties. Casual, creative, and musically-inclined, Steve (Kate's father) and his buddies play in a band late at night, and sleep in late in the day. Kate's mother works outside of the home and is quite comfortable ordering pizza for the gang's supper most evenings.

Sully's parents are not happily together, having divorced when the twins were young. Sully's mother is a good cook who provides a nutritious meal at every opportunity. The twins are both good students academically, but socially travel in different circles. Sully is into the theatre group with Kate, but his sister is more into keeping up with the in-crowd, with make up, clothing, and hair the focus of their conversations and attention.

When Sully faces a potential 'swirly' hairdo in the boys' room, courtesy of the tough guys, and is saved from that humiliation by the handsome senior whom both he and his sister find attractive, he begins to question his gender orientation. Sully's is disappointed in learning that his dad has brought a woman in to his apartment, replacing all of the familiar furniture and many of Sully's own belongings; tensions increase.

What happens following Sully's decision to leave home and find his way in the city is enough of a surprise to  keep the reader focused on how all of the characters in this drama respond.

I give another strong five stars to this story. And if you haven't read Starkey's other novels, you will find her style of writing relevant, compelling and heartwarming, and no doubt will want to find her stories online or in the book stores.
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