Qualities of Light – Mary Carroll Moore (Spinsters Ink)

Buy it Now at Giovanni’s Room or at Amazon through The Dreamwalker Group.

The good news is this is a wonderful, engagingly nuanced coming out story that deserves attention. The bad news? It has one small flaw that drove me batshit crazy every time I picked it up.

Molly Fisher, a 16-year-old girl spending the summer with her family in a cabin beside an Adirodack lake, is a troubled teen. She is responsible for a boating accident that left her younger brother, Sam, comatose and her folks equally distant – both from her and from each other. Into this bleak picture steps Chad, who has a crush on Molly, and Zoe Novotny, a year older than Molly but far more worldly. She also has a crush on her.

Moore has written a beautiful book that captures not only the heartbreak of a family tragedy but the wonder of coming out – realizing who you are and what makes you happy. The characters are thoroughly fleshed out and three-dimensional, and her descriptions of lakeside mornings are so full of place you can almost smell the tang of the watery air. She is as adept at painting the still-life of a hospital room as she is the awkwardness of teenage romance, straight and gay.

Ah yes, the flaw – every single instance of the word “okay” is capitalized.

It’s small but irritating, like a pebble in your shoe or – if you’re a princess like me, a pea under your mattress. The first time I saw it, I thought it was just a typo. The second and third time, I figured Moore was trying to make some larger philosophical comment on the concept of “Okay-ness.” After that, it just became annoying. Every time I saw it, it jerked me out of the narrative and distracted my attention. I’d spend the next few paragraphs half reading and half fuming at the intrusion until I was able to settle back down into the beauty of the book. Then, it’d happen again.

However, you might ride right over it – and even if you don’t, it’s no reason not to experience the subtle pleasures of this atmospheric and richly textured book.

Okay?

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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