“Members of the Cast” by George Beckman is a trip back in time that will leave you with a renewed faith in humanity. In an era where jaded cynicism is the norm, Beckman’s wholesome coming of age narrative is a breath of fresh air. His well rounded characters beg to be fallen in love with – from awkward teenage Margo unfolding like the timid butterfly she is, to her Uncle T. Charles, the quintessential gentleman whose quiet grief-filled world comes back to vibrant life with the entrance of his niece, to Margo’s new best friend Sharon with her all-too-insightful comments on life. You’ll have a hard time picking your favorite!
When Margo’s parents choose her father’s career in archaeology over her – again – she is bundled up and shipped across the country like so much unwanted cargo. Arriving in California, Margo is picked up by T. Charles in his Packard automobile. There, he ushers her into a house still full of the woman he loved – Margo’s aunt Virgina. Fearful and timid, Margo goes through the motions at her new school and at home, afraid that any moment the other shoe will drop just as it always did with her parents. Yet, as friendships are formed, handsome boys actually being to notice her, and T. Charles falls into the role of a parent as if he were born to be Margo’s Uncle, the anxious girl she was falls away and a new young woman steps in to take her place. Through surprising discoveries, family secrets, and the plain old magic of unconditional love, Margo is transformed into Maggie.
I was lucky enough to be a beta reader on this book and I have to say that I’ve rarely enjoyed a beta read as much as this one. Beckman’s deep understanding of the teenage psyche is clear in his growth arc for Maggie. The family drama is intriguing without being salacious and engaging without being breakneck paced. He paints a portrait of the family with small, loving brushstrokes that brings them to singing, dancing life right in your heart. If you are looking for a gift for someone going through the tribulations of adolescence – or someone who did at one point – this book won’t disappoint.
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