Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Grand Central Publishing, 2006, 304pp.)
Ronnie finds her happy childhood shattered when Scott Early, an undiagnosed schizophrenic, murders her two little sisters. After an extensive investigation, a judge determines that Early, otherwise a tender, loving person, cannot be held responsible for his actions. While her parents find the strength to forgive Early and move on with their lives, Ronnie forms a plan to punish this “gentle” killer. Here, Mitchard breaches a number of touchy topics: How is premeditated, willful murder different from murders committed by the mentally ill? How long is it appropriate to grieve for a young child who has been murdered? The reader accompanies Ronnie in her journey from vengeance to forgiveness. She is a strong, empathetic heroine, and the story is hers entirely. Unfortunately, the dialogue is not as fluid as it could have been, and Scott Early, a tragic, tormented figure who has such fascinating potential as a character, is never fully fleshed out. This aside, Mitchard’s tale of grief, vengeance, and redemption is definitely worth a look.
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