One teen’s intriguing search for identity amid life in a religious cult.
While others have found their Calling, 16-year-old Starbird Murphy has been content tending to the chickens on the Free Family Farm commune she calls home in rural Washington state. Free love, shared possessions, unusual names and dubious genealogy are all she’s ever known. When she’s needed to waitress at the Free Family Café in Seattle, everyone except Starbird assumes it’s her Calling. But when EARTH, their charismatic founder and leader, fails to return from his mission and she finds Indus, who recently resolved to love only one person, kissing another girl, Starbird doesn’t hesitate to head to the big city. With a lesser author at the helm, this story would be marred by stereotypes. But as Starbird learns to navigate asphalt, high school, computers, talking to Outsiders and even handling money for the first time, she meets a range of individuals with varying degrees of faith. When the teen discovers odd deposits while helping sort through the cafe’s mismanaged accounts and calls on Outsider Ben (also with religious issues) for help, there’s no doubt that she will question her own faith (and romance). In the hands of poet Finneyfrock, Starbird gradually and realistically finds her inner voice emerging from a controlled mind.
Both Starbird and readers will expand their worlds. (Fiction. 13-18)