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FMS: "Qualities of Light"
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How do you catch that elusive spark as a writer?


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12:29 minutes (6 MB)
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Review - How many writers have caught that lightning-in-a-bottle that is young love? And made it glow with all the sweetness, sweat, and anguished joy that characterize it? Very few, I venture to guess, but here's one to add to the list and love. In prose both elegant and spare, but never without compassion, Mary Carroll Moore limns a romance between two eager, bright, and thoughtful teenaged girls. One is beautiful, confident, and athletic; the other is artistically gifted, a skilled observer of family and friends. But both are tangled in family problems beyond their powers to solve. Zoe, the athlete, lives with her sot of a father, having been unwillingly relinquished by her lesbian mother when another lover drew her away. Molly, the artist, takes on heavy guilt for an accident that almost killed her beloved little brother and struggles with the sad prospect of her parents' possible divorce.

Moore never sentimentalizes these problems, but neither does she let the girls lose hope. On the contrary, as their love unfolds, it becomes their fortress. The story, set in lush summer in the Adirondacks, suffuses the young lovers with those qualities of light that illuminate the water, the woods, and the human heart. Indeed, she provides a bounty for all the senses, as we catch the scent of pines and warm muffins, we hear the splash of waves under water skis, we feel the slip of trembling hands over oiled bodies. We are transported back to that perilous passage, so well remembered, through adolescence and first love. This is a tender and lively coming-of-age tale told with delicate insight. Mary Carroll Moore has given us a romance etched in moonlight--the one we all wish we had had in our seventeenth summer. --Ann Bannon


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An early summer morning, a forbidden boat ride. An accident that puts Molly Fisher's seven-year-old brother in a coma. And Molly's life plummets out of orbit.


Steeped in self-blame, she reaches out to her parents. But they occupy their own elliptical orbits, grief-stricken, distant, estranged from her and from each other.


Into Molly's anguish and solitude intrude two people: Chad, whose awkward courtship meets her even more awkward response; and Zoe, at seventeen a year older than Molly, and seemingly light years ahead in the frankness of her interest and the boldness of her pursuit of Molly.


Qualities of Light explores the budding of unexpected romance in the face of family tragedy, the forging of a new relationship between a daughter and her gifted, difficult parents, and an adolescent girl's confrontation with her own qualities of light and darkness.

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