cover image Starbird Murphy and the World Outside

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside

Karen Finneyfrock. Viking, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-01276-3

Sixteen-year-old Starbird has grown up on a farm commune, living among the Free Family, a peaceful, free-loving community whose absentee founder, a man named EARTH, “translates” messages from the Cosmic Imagination for his devoted flock. Each member receives a “Calling,” and although Starbird doesn’t initially think much of hers—waiting tables at the Free Family Cafe in Seattle—after a perceived romantic betrayal, she leaves behind everything she’s known for the Outside World. Many unfamiliar experiences await her, including attending public high school, handling money, and finding romance with an “Outsider,” even as complicated questions arise about EARTH and the Free Family, challenging its future and testing Starbird’s faith. Finneyfrock’s (The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door) background as a poet is evident, and she makes Starbird’s perceptions come alive, whether it’s the smells and sounds of the farm or the high school morning rush (“I felt like part of a strange school of fish, all darting into the massive building and down the halls in flashes of dazzling color”). Readers will feel like they’re experiencing every step of Starbird’s eye-opening journey firsthand. Ages 12–up. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (June)