The Starlite Drive-in, a 5-Star Read

by Elizabeth


The discovery of human remains at the old Starlite Drive-In theatre brings up in razor-sharp detail the events of the summer of 1956 for Callie Anne Benton. The drive-in bounded her world and that of her parents—her father managed the place, out in the country several miles from the nearest town, and her mother, suffering from agoraphobia, never left their house, situated on the property. Callie Anne occupies herself with catching frogs at the nearby creek and watching movies in the soundbooth with her father until she has them memorized. But, the summer that she is nearly 13, everything changes.

The arrival of a drifter named Charlie Memphis, hired to help her crippled father with maintenance, throws a stone into the placid waters of their lives. He’s handsome, a stranger, and treats Callie’s mother, Teal, with appreciation—something she doesn’t get from her husband. You can feel the attraction cracking between them, and it’s a wonder that Callie’s father doesn’t start worrying sooner. Callie is also growing up, in that awkward stage between tomboy and young woman. She’s got a crush on Virgil, the high school boy spending his summer working at the drive-in, and a crush on Charlie Memphis too.

One thing I loved about The Starlite Drive-in was how well the characters were fleshed out. People may tip the scale to the side of “good guy” or “bad guy” but, as with their real-life counterparts, they are a mix of both. The Starlite Drive-in is packed with detail; reading this book is a sensory experience. You can easily picture settings, people’s outfits, expressions. I feel as if I would recognize them on the street.

And although the discovery of just whose bones they were won’t be a total shock, the joy of this novel lies not in the revelation of a mystery, but in the journey to get there—a path filled with sun-splashed afternoons, first love and painful revelations, and a woman who made an unexpected choice and had the backbone to keep on with it.

Highly recommended. The Starlite Drive-in by Marjorie Reynolds is haunting and evocative, the kind of novel that stays with you for a long time. I give it 5 stars.

We have a copy to give away to one of you, thanks to the publisher! Just leave a comment here, and we’ll announce the winner in our giveaway column on February 1. This is open to U.S. and Canadian addresses. This giveaway is now closed.

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Elizabeth is glad she never has to be 12 again, but she still enjoys reading of other’s travails. Learn more at her blog Planet Nomad.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Margaret January 21, 2012 at 1:49 am

Please count me in for the giveaway. Thanks!



2 DogEar January 21, 2012 at 9:15 am

I love a good character-driven book and I remember there was an old Starlite Drive-In in my hometown when I was a young girl.


3 riTa January 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

Count me in!


4 Liz January 21, 2012 at 10:12 am

Please enter my name. Thanks.


5 anne January 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

this book would be a wonderful experience. The story, era and characters. Many thanks.


6 Amy January 21, 2012 at 11:00 am

Sounds good! Sign me up!


7 Sherrie January 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

Sounds like a good read – count me in as well!


8 Carol Wong January 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

What a wonderful setting for a murder mystery!!!
We had a a Starlite Drive in our town too. I think that drive-ins have a mystique of their own so I would really love to read this book!!!



9 Ruthie B January 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I was born in 1952 so the drive-in was the Saturday night entertainment! Would love to read it!


10 Michelle January 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

This sounds like a very interesting book that I would love to read. Please include me in the giveaway. Thanks so much, Mich


11 Cindi January 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm

What a cast of interesting characters and
an interesting plot…
Many thanks, Cindi


12 Kim January 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm

love to win!


13 Joy January 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Sounds like a great story – thanks :)


14 Jessica January 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Hiya, sounds like an interesting story with great characters – fab review!

Jessica from Booked Up!

:) xxx


15 Tammy Gordon January 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Looks like a great book!


16 Marjorie January 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Oh, how I do remember the good olde days in the 50 and 60’s going to the drive-in.
I would love to read this book.


17 Elizabeth January 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm

You got it! Congrats on winning! Please reply by sending us your address.


18 Beth C January 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I also remember the drive-in theatres! This looks like a very good book. Thanks!


19 Staci A January 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

It sounds really interesting. Would love to read it!


20 Natalia January 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Please enter me.


21 John January 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm

I would like to win this book.


22 Jeanne January 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Enter me in this giveaway cause I would love to read this. Thank you for this giveaway. :) Jeanne


23 Judy Reetz January 22, 2012 at 9:06 am

Please enter me. Love your book reviews!


24 Merry January 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm

The Starlite Drive-In strikes a nostalgic cord with me and I love a mystery!


25 tennille January 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

our local drive-in is also the Starlight and we love it. Of course it does not offer dead bodies…


26 Linda Kish January 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com


27 June January 23, 2012 at 7:06 am

This sounds like a good story & mystery.


28 Fonda January 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I would love to read it!


29 Dianne January 23, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Love good mysteries and would like to read this.


30 Don January 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Sounds very interesting.


31 Carol M January 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm

This sounds like a book I would really enjoy! Thank you for the giveaway!


32 Anita Yancey January 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm

This book sounds amazing, and I’d love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


33 Chuck January 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I love a good mystery.


34 Garrett January 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I’ve always found a suspense in a good mystery.


35 Lori January 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm

This sounds like a winner to me!


36 gwendolyn b. January 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Please count me in for the giveaway. I’m eager to read this one not just for the nostalgic setting but also for the complexity of the characters. As you point out, people are a mix of good and bad and I enjoy that sort of realism in my reading. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!


37 Francine Anchondo January 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Thanks for the giveaway


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