Cage of Stars [NOOK Book]

Overview

12-year-old Veronica Swan's idyllic life in a close-knit Mormon community is shattered when her two younger sisters are brutally murdered. Although her parents find the strength to forgive the deranged killer, Scott Early, Veronica cannot do the same. Years later, she sets out alone to avenge her sisters' deaths, dropping her identity and severing ties in the process. As she closes in on Early, Veronica will discover the true meaning of sin and compassion, before she makes a decision that will change her and her ...
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Cage of Stars

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Overview

12-year-old Veronica Swan's idyllic life in a close-knit Mormon community is shattered when her two younger sisters are brutally murdered. Although her parents find the strength to forgive the deranged killer, Scott Early, Veronica cannot do the same. Years later, she sets out alone to avenge her sisters' deaths, dropping her identity and severing ties in the process. As she closes in on Early, Veronica will discover the true meaning of sin and compassion, before she makes a decision that will change her and her family's lives forever.
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Editorial Reviews

Catherine Ryan Hyde
Cage of Stars has everything good fiction needs: ably crafted characters, a taut sense of suspense and a lot to say about a world of tough emotional choices.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
A young Mormon girl finds herself torn between retribution and forgiveness in The Deep End of the Ocean author Mitchard's latest. Twelve-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Swan witnesses the murder of her two sisters in her family's yard in tiny Cedar City, Utah. Murderer Scott Early is immediately apprehended, but is diagnosed with schizophrenia and ends up spending just three years in a state mental hospital. The rest of Ronnie's family turns to their faith to forgive Early, visiting him just before his release after a battery of drugs have restored him to normalcy. But Ronnie remains angry and haunted by her inability to save her sisters from him, and as she comes of age she tracks Early to San Diego, becomes an EMT, talks his wife into hiring her as a nanny for their infant daughter, and starts planning her vengeance. But as Early's life comes into focus, Ronnie's plan leads to an unexpected, if overly summative, climax. Ronnie progresses from a stock girl-next-door type to a young woman with considerable emotional depth, and Mitchard understatedly portrays her attempts to navigate romance and other interactions as a Mormon raised very "of the Church." The results are sweet and solid. (May 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

The book opens with the terrible slaughter of two young sisters by a psychopathic killer in a rural Mormon community in Utah. The killer strikes while older sister Veronica (Ronny) is playing hide-and seek with the girls. Told from Ronny's point of view, the story describes the next months and years of a family consumed by grief. Eventually, Ronny's very devout parents are able to forgive the killer, who was sentenced to a few years in a treatment facility and released to return to a normal life with a wife and baby of his own while he studies to become a librarian. Ronny, on the other hand, is consumed by vengeance. Obsessed with destroying the killer and his family, she insinuates herself into the position of nanny to the killer's baby. There are a number of twists and some big coincidences as the story continues. It feels as if the author is reaching for an ending that is just a little too contrived, and it ultimately detracts from the first half of the work. Still, narrator Hope Davis has a beautifully clear voice and captures the strong emotions with compelling drama. Mitchard is an enormously popular author, and Cage of Stars, like her earlier novels, is sure to be in demand in public libraries.
—Barbara Valle

Library Journal
As with Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean and A Theory of Relativity, this latest novel explores family dynamics in the aftermath of tragedy. Cage of Stars is told from the perspective of a young Mormon girl, 17-year-old Veronica Swan, who relates the story of the murder of her two younger sisters and her subsequent journey to avenge their deaths and find peace. But at what price? Mitchard's novel struggles with questions of divinity and retribution by asking if it is really anyone's place to sit in judgment of others. It is a story that is at times eloquent, yet always painful to read. Readers are invited to get to know the Swans; they will be left all the more complete because of the experience. This is Mitchard's best novel to date and is an essential purchase for all public libraries.-Nanci Milone Hill, Nevins Memorial Lib., MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mormon teen's sisters meet grisly deaths, resulting in a slow slog over the much-trod territory of post-traumatic stress. Mitchard (The Breakdown Lane, 2005, etc.) is defter with melodrama that admits some farce, an element sorely lacking in this glacially paced chronicle of slaughter's aftermath. Twelve-year-old Veronica (Ronnie) Swan is playfully hiding from her sisters in a shed near the Swan family's Utah home. She emerges to carnage: Scott Early, a pharmacy student on a psychotic rampage, has murdered her sisters with her father's weeding scythe, in what the media will call the Grim Reaper slayings. The Swans are victimized again when Early's diagnosis of schizophrenia means he is incompetent to stand trial. Instead, he is committed for four years-a lenient sentence, but a convenient one, plot-wise. The author offers an interminable depiction of the depressing numbness of the Swans' days (Papa goes for long walks at night, Mama takes to her bed). Eventually the parents decide that forgiving Early is the only way the family can find release, but Ronnie refuses to participate in the therapeutic meeting with Early and his wife, Kelly. The moribund drama almost revives when Ronnie, 16, decamps for California, ostensibly to train as a paramedic and raise funds for college and medical school. Early, now medicated and released, is living with Kelly in San Diego, and Ronnie contrives to become, under assumed name and hairdo, nanny to their infant, Juliet. While saving lives as an apprentice EMT, Ronnie has vague plans to avenge her sisters' deaths or rescue adorable Juliet by kidnapping her. But Mitchard pulls back before things can get remotely nefarious. Instead, there's-you guessedit-peace and reconciliation. The Mormon aspect adds no resonance. The Swans might as well be Lutherans, like Early. Thinly conceived and timidly executed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759515581
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/1/2006
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 292,363
  • File size: 315 KB

Meet the Author

Jacquelyn Mitchard

JACQUELYN MITCHARD lives in Massachusetts.

Biography

"Jacquelyn Mitchard has considered changing her name legally to The Deep End of the Ocean. This is because her own name is much less well-known than the title of her first book," so read the opening lines of Mitchard's biography on her web site. Granted, the writer is best known for the novel that holds the distinct honor of being the very first pick in Oprah Winfrey's book club, but Mitchard is also responsible for a number of other bestsellers, all baring her distinctive ability to tackle emotional subject matter without lapsing into cloying sentimentality.

Mitchard got her start as a newspaper journalist in the ‘70s, but first established herself as a writer to watch in 1985 when she published Mother Less Child, a gut wrenching account of her own miscarriage. Though autobiographical in nature, Mother Less Child introduced the themes of grief and coping that would often resurface in her fiction. These themes were particularly prevalent in the debut novel that would nab Mitchard her greatest notoriety. The Deep End of the Ocean tells of the depression that grips a woman and her son following the disappearance of her younger son. Like Mother Less Child, the novel was also based on a personal tragedy, the death of her husband, and the author's very real grief contributes to the emotional authenticity of the book.

The Deep End of the Ocean became a commercial and critical smash, lauded by every publication from People Magazine to Newsweek. It exemplified Mitchard's unique approach to her subject. In lesser hands, such a story might have sunk into precious self-reflection. However Mitchard approaches her story as equal parts psychological drama and suspenseful thriller. "I like to read stories in which things happen," she told Book Reporter. "I get very impatient with books that are meditations - often beautiful ones - on a single character's thoughts and reactions. I like a story that roller coasters from one event to the next, peaks and valleys."

The Deep End of the Ocean undoubtedly changed Mitchard's life. She was still working part time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison writing speeches when the novel got Oprah's seal of approval and went into production as a major motion picture starring Michelle Pfeiffer. She didn't even consider leaving her job until, as she recounted to Book Slut.com, "my boss finally said to me, ‘You know, kiddo, people whose books have sold this many copies and are being made into movies don't have this part-time job.'" So, she left her job despite misgivings and embarked upon a writing career that would produce such powerful works as The Most Wanted, Twelve Times Blessed, and The Breakdown Lane. She has also written two non-fictional volumes about peace activist Jane Addams.

Mitchard's latest Cage of Stars tells of Veronica Swan, a twelve-year old girl living in a Mormon community whose life is completely upturned when her sisters are murdered. Again, a story of this nature could have easily played out as a banal tear jerker, but Mitchard allows Veronica to take a more active role in the novel, setting out to avenge the death of her sisters. Consequently, Case of Stars is another example of Mitchard's ability to turn the tables on convention and produce a story with both emotional resonance and a page-turning narrative, making for a novel created with the express purpose of pleasing her fans. "Narrative is not in fashion in the novels of our current era; reflection is," she told Book Reporter. "But buying a book and reading it is a substantial investment of time and money. I want to take readers on a journey full circle. They deserve it."

Good To Know

Mitchard is certainly most famous for her sophisticated adult novels, yet she has also written two children's novels, Rosalie and Starring Prima, as well as Baby Bat's Lullaby, a picture book. She currently has three new children's books in development.

Now that Mitchard has officially scored a successful writing career, what could be left for the writer to achieve? Well, according to her web site, her "truest ambition" is to make an appearance on the popular TV show Law and Order.

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Read an Excerpt

Cage of Stars


By Jacquelyn Mitchard

Warner Books

Copyright © 2006 Jacquelyn Mitchard
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-57875-4


Chapter One

At the moment when Scott Early killed Becky and Ruthie, I was hiding in the shed.

It wasn't because I was afraid. I wasn't afraid to die then, and I'm not afraid now. It was because we were playing hide-and-seek. My little sisters always started begging me the minute my parents left me to baby-sit. "Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie!" they would tease me, pulling on my shirt while I tried to straighten up the kitchen, "Betcha we can find you this time. Betcha on our chores!" And I would always give in, warning them that if they didn't find me, they were going to spend two hours, until Mama got back, picking up every crayon and every sticker book in their room.

"This time I'm not kidding, Thing One and Thing Two," I told them that day. "I'm not going in there right before Mama gets home and pull all your clean clothes and markers out from under your bed."

"I promise, slalomly," Becky said. I had to laugh. Her teeth were purple from the berries she'd eaten for breakfast. Becky was as thin and fast as a minnow in a creek and seemed to live practically on air. Ruthie was as round and "slalom" as a little koala bear. Her favorite thing was to eat cookie dough right from the bowl.

They wanted to play outside, because it was a really warm, sunny day for November, not that it'sever too cold at the edge of what's practically the Mojave Desert. The purples and yellows and reds of the changing trees that day were as flashy as a marching band.

And so, an hour later, I was crouched down in the shed, behind a big sack of potting soil and a crate of clay, hoping a spider didn't pick that time to crawl up my back. I couldn't see my little sisters. But I imagined that they were leaning against the picnic table, where we ate our supper almost every summer night when the bugs weren't bad - our own tomatoes and sweet corn, sometimes with tacos and black beans - listening to the birds making their go-to-sleep sounds. Becky and Ruthie most likely had their little hands over their eyes, counting fast so that they could yell out, "Ready or not, here I come!" Ruthie would call first, I knew. She always did, and Becky always shushed her, saying there was no way she could have gotten to a hundred yet because she, Becky, was older and she hadn't got up to fifty. I know they didn't peek, because I'd told them peeking wasn't fair, and that I wouldn't play unless they played fair.

That day, though, they never made a sound.

I figured they were counting to a hundred silently, because whenever we played hide-and-seek, Becky would count straight up as fast as she could, and Ruthie, who was only four, would say out loud, "One, two, three, four, eight, fourteen, fifteen, ten." Becky would get so confused she'd have to start all over again.

But five minutes went by, and still, they never made a sound. When it got to be a long time, I opened the door.

And I saw my sisters, lying there like little white dolls in great dark pools of paint. I saw Scott Early, a young man with short blond hair, sitting on the picnic table, wearing only his underwear, sobbing as if they were his little sisters, as if a terrible monster had come along and done this. Which was sort of what he did think, though I didn't know that then.

It was a good thing, a doctor later said to my mother, that Becky and Ruthie didn't cry out. It meant that they died quickly. They barely felt a thing. They must never have heard Scott Early come walking barefoot across our lawn. The merciful Father shielded them from fear. Being cut across the carotid artery is a very quick way to die. I knew that, even then, from biology. But it's not over in an instant, and I prayed for months that Becky and Ruthie never had time to wonder why I wasn't there to help them. For I was always there to help them.

Though I was only twelve-almost-thirteen, Mama could trust me to look after the little girls alone, even if she had to be out in the part of the shed that was her "studio" or at the galleries, as far away as St. George, for hours at a time.

"You are as responsible as any mother, Ronnie," Mama quietly told me one night, after the time Becky's hand got burned. Becky had been impatient that morning for her "cheesy eggs," and reached up to see if they were finished while I was cooking. She burned her hand on the pan. Mama said I had "presence of mind" because I didn't start to cry or panic when Becky screamed. I didn't try to put butter on the burn, which my own grandma would have done, because that would have made it worse. From the firstaid section of health class Mama taught me, I remembered that a burn had to be cooled down with water right away or the heat inside would keep right on burning the skin and the damage would go deeper. I put Becky's hand under the cold-water tap for five minutes and wrapped ice in a thick towel and taped it down around her hand. Then I ran, pulling Becky and Ruthie in the wooden wagon, down to our nearest neighbor, Mrs. Emory, who drove us to Pine Mountains Clinic ten miles away, between our house and Cedar City. At the clinic, the doctor, a young woman, placed a net shield and gauze under a bandage on Becky's palm. The doctor spoke so gently to Becky that I suppose it was then that I first thought I would become a doctor one day myself. I wondered if the incident meant I was called to it.

Becky had just a tiny scar on one finger after her hand healed. Our pediatrician, Dr. Pratt, said he wouldn't have done one thing different himself, except to drive her to a hospital. But there wasn't a real hospital within fifty miles of where we lived at the foot of a pine-covered ridge. Where we lived wasn't even really a town. It was a sort of settlement, for people like my father, who always said he liked his "elbow room."

And so, on the day they died, unless paramedics could have arrived at our house within minutes; and everyone knew that was impossible, or unless there was a doctor already at our house; and I was just a child, and Mr. Sissinelli, our neighbor, who was a doctor, was at his hospital, no one could have saved my sisters.

I must not feel guilty, Mama and Papa told me over and over, in the days afterward, although I could see in their eyes and hear in their voices that they felt exactly that way themselves. I was not to feel guilty for being unable to call for help until it was too late, or for being unable to get Papa's gun because he was out hunting for quail, they said. By the time I opened the door on the sight that would change me for the rest of my life, it was already too late.

When the police asked questions about why we weren't supervised, my parents spoke up. They defended me and their choice of leaving me to watch my sisters, telling the officers what a responsible girl I was. I had done just what I should have done. I had been brave. They said that not even a parent could have suspected that Scott Early would even find such a remote place, much less grab the weeding scythe Papa had left leaning against the barn and use it like the sword of an avenging angel, striking a death blow in seconds.

I listened and I nodded, but I didn't really believe them. I didn't want to cause Papa, and especially Mama, any more pain, but no one could say I wasn't guilty. My cousins, and my best friends, Clare and Emma, and even goofy boys like Finn and Miko, said the same thing. But it didn't matter. Even after the panic was gone, and the worst of the agony, the guilt was always there. It could never be turned off. The guilt was like using a plain magnifying glass to focus a beam of sunlight, bringing all that heat together, turning something soft and bright into something that could hurt. Even love couldn't dim it. It was the guilt that made my anger like a burn that no one ever ran under cold water; and so it kept burning and burning down to my bones. And as time went by, and other peoples' cooled down, mine did not. It got hotter, and became a part of me, and it didn't heal until long after. Even now, I think the scars must still be there.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard Copyright © 2006 by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2006

    A must read book for everyone

    From the moment I opened this book, I didn't want to put it down.. Although it was exceptionally sad in places, it was a work of determination and desire for a young girl to finally come to grips with a very unhappy time. May Ronnie Swan be an inspiration to us all that good can come from evil.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    Gripping from page one.  Truly a powerful work.  The LDS referen

    Gripping from page one.  Truly a powerful work.  The LDS references did not bother me--the point being that one's faith can compel forgiveness and, potentially, bring a peace that others may not understand.

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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Truly Amazing Story!

    So far, this book has been an amazing read! I'm taking it slow as to savor every detail of it! The plot is a heavily scarred idea featuring the murders of Veronica Swan's two younger sisters. I know that many others will feel an odd, yet deep, connection with this book, based on the fact that it's raw and painfully real. Jacquelyn Mitchard does a fantastic job of capturing each and every one of Ronnie's emotions. In an instant, readers feel exactly as Ronnie does, sometimes down to the fluttering heart. With this in mind, mentally prepare yourselves for a captivating experience only to be endured in Cage of Stars.

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  • Posted March 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Easy reading with Mitchard's typical mastery of descriptive language and simile

    I enjoyed reading this book, sometimes getting lost in admiring the construction of it. I did find the constant and, in many cases, unnecessary reference to LDS annoying. I expected to come across a parenthetical (for more information, contact). There is a need to really suspend disbelief when Ronnie goes on her odyssey because of her age and her relatively sheltered life. It reminded me of the even more unbelievable Tenth Circle of Picoult's. But, that's fiction. Time must be compressed to keep the story moving. Overall, a good book with well drawn, sympathetic characters.

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  • Posted February 5, 2010

    Ronnie's Stars

    In the novel, Cage of Stars, Veronica "Ronnie" Swan's two younger sisters are murdered. The Swans were a happy Mormon family living in Utah when the traumatizing incident occurred. Jacquelyn Mitchard describes Ronnie's journey through despair, anger, hatred love, revenge, and forgiveness. Ronnie spends the few years following her sisters' deaths cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the new baby born just weeks after the "incident." Ronnie's parents, during this time, go on an emotional journey and eventually forgive Scott Early, the murderer. Ronnie cannot bring herself to forgive him, and sets out to seek revenge. When Ronnie finds Scott, his life revolves around his wife and new baby daughter. Ronnie takes a job as a nanny for Scott's daughter, under a false name, eventually planning to take from Scott what he took from her.
    Cage of Stars is a first person account of this tragedy. Mitchard used fantastic stylistic techniques that will pull you into the thrilling story, and will make you feel as you never have before.

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  • Posted May 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Latter-Day Saint Girl in a dramatic, touching work of Fiction.

    Engaging story about a 14 year old LDS girl, whose life is torn apart by the murder of her two younger sisters. How does she cope, given her young teen years and her religious background. Will keep you wondering to then end,what she is going to do when the killer is released. Very well written by a non-Mormon. The small incorrect pieces of LDS life will not distract from the story. A kind of coming of age story that is based in tragedy, great for anyone wanting a dramatic read, teens through any age.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Power of Religion On Our Decisions

    Great character and her conflicted feelings in this story touch your heart. You live through each moment and it makes you wonder how you would react in a similar situation. Forgiveness???...A true test of one's character.

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  • Posted January 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Better than expected

    I had a hard time getting into the book and found myself going through the motions of reading more then once but am so glad I fought the urge to not finish. Her writing style is easy to read, but also easy to space out on. However, the surprise ending was pleasant and I was really glad I stuck with it since it ended in a way that made the whole story more interesting to me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2008

    Blah,blah,blah

    I actually expected the author to write the words 'blah blah blah' mid sentence - I was bored out of my mind half the time with the meaningless, shallow details. I love Jodi Picoult and knew she recommended the book. However, I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone, and was unable to force myself to finish it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2008

    Compelling!

    Im going to be a Freshman in college and before we start our fall semester, the school required all incoming students to read Cage of Stars. They couldnt have made a better choice. Cage of Stars is a real tear jerker that makes one think 'what would i do in that situation'. Although very little action seens, it holds your attention from cover to cover.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2008

    Gripping

    This book was great and I absolutely loved it. It is very descriptive and also very emotionally gripping. You could really relate to Ronnie as a person and not just a character. Ronnie is the perfect example of the sensativity of the human spirit. I guarentee you will love this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2008

    amazing

    from the minute i started this book, i was reluctant to put it down. i finished it in just a few days. i got very emotional when reading cage of stars, feeling every loss as if it were my own. mitchard is fantastic at making you feel as if you are a part of the story. although it deals with death, loss, and whether or not to forgive (aka very serious topics), it's also very happy and i learned a lot from it. recommended to all book lovers

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2006

    ONE OF THE BEST

    Cage of Stars is one of the best books I've read this year: The characters are well-defined, the pages just fly, and the outcome is a winner. If you want a worthwhile read, this is the one for you.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2006

    Not very good

    This is not a very good book. Ms Mitchard has written so much better in the past. I understand that she has included books for children and preteens in her reperatoire. Should this book be so classified? Her proselytizing for the Mormon church was very tiresome and added nothing to the story line. There is no 'truth' in the telling of this story just teenage angst that does not play out in this telling. Boring and uninspiring. (what was the meaning of the title again?)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2006

    Mitchard at her best

    Mitchard has written a very compassionate and believeable story. As a reader, I went through a range of emotions along with the characters in the book. The ending was not overdone, but just right.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Well written and filled with suspense

    In Utah the oldest child, twelve-year-old Veronica ¿Ronnie¿ Swan, plays hide and seek with her younger siblings Becky and Ruthie whom she calls ¿Thing One¿ and ¿Thing Two¿. Ronnie hides in the shed while her sisters search for her. However, when she hears no noise outside from the usually loud Things, she emerges from her hiding place to find both dead lying in a sea of red. Calmly sitting on a bench nearby is their killer Scott Early.------------------- Court psychologists determine that he is unable to stand trial on the grounds of insanity as his schizophrenia does not allow him to understand right from wrong as required to stand trial. He is sent off for four years of treatment instead. While the parents Becky and Ruthie forgive their daughters¿ killer, they struggle to cope, but attending sessions with Early and his wife, help. Ronnie refuses to forgive.----------------- Four years later Scott is free but medicated living with his wife and their infant in San Diego. Ronnie moves to Southern California to become an emergency medical technician, but using an alias obtains work as the Early nanny her goal: an eye for an eye.---------------- Well written and filled with suspense once the teen relocates, the audience will wonder whether Ronnie, who saves lives for a living, can kill an innocent baby in this intriguing coming of age story starring a young woman with a tragic still life painting etched on her brain forever. The story line is character driven as readers follow Ronnie, whose plan for vengeance is on track. Though the insight into how the Mormon Church (the Swans are Mormons) react to the murders is lacking, fans of deep psychological thrillers will appreciate Jacquelyn Mitchard¿s strong effort that keeps readers wondering will she do the deed.--------------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2006

    Right from the start

    I just felt compelled to reach into the book and help guide Ronnie Swan. She was a young girl shouldering an enormous burden and as the story unfolded you could see how she was headed in a bad direction. She tried so hard to do what she thought was the right thing, but she never quite made it there. I could not put this book down - I felt like I knew this family and I wanted to help them survive this tragedy. Jacquelyn Mitchard is an compassionate, prolific author who truly understands the dynamic of family. She has earned her reputation as one of the great authors of our time. This was certainly one of her best works to date!

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

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    STELLAR VOICE PERFORMANCE AND POIGNANT DENOUEMENT

    It's good to admit your bias up front, so here's mine: I've been a fan of Jackie Mitchard's since The Deep End of the Ocean, finding her incredibly skilled at portraying deeply felt emotions. She did it again with The Most Wanted, and Cage Of Stars is one more exploration of the human heart by this perceptive author. Film and stage actress Hope Davis is truly fine as she narrates the story of young Ronnie who finds herself anguished by the murders of her sisters and torn asunder by what her faith dictates. Winner of the New York Film Critics Best Actress Award and also nominated for a Golden Globe she delivers a stellar performance as Ronnie seeks to come to terms with what she has seen and what she has been taught. For twelve years Veronica (Ronnie) Swan has led a peaceful sheltered life, secure in the love of her family and the care of the Mormon community in which she lives. That idyll is shattered when her two younger sisters are brutally murdered by a sociopath, Scott Early. A few minutes before the three had been playing together and now they are gone. As Ronnie grows older Mitchard traces how each member of the family responds to this tragic loss. Her father seems almost stoical, clinging to his belief of forgiveness, while her mother sinks into depression despite the birth of a baby boy. Much of the narrative is devoted to Ronnie's introspection she believes that Early must be held accountable for his actions. Eventually, she leaves the confines of her home and goes to California, still haunted by the deaths of her sisters. Some of the most revelatory, touching words given to her are: ''I don't know that I'll ever be as completely happy as someone can be who's never been creased through the center by agony but I don't think I'm altogether the worse for it, either.' It is in California that Ronnie again comes in contact with the now married Early as Mitchard weaves a poignant denouement. Listen to this stellar voice performance by Hope Davis and enjoy. - Gail Cooke

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    Posted August 2, 2009

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