After reading LDS author Marcia Mickelson’s book “Reasonable Doubt,” I was curious to read her first novel, which was “Star Shining Brightly.” Having read both of them, I’m not sure which I liked best—they’re different enough that they don’t necessarily compete with each other. “Reasonable Doubt” is a law mystery, while “Star Shining Brightly” takes us to the world of Hollywood.
Superstar Lauren Olsen was raised in a Mormon home but abandoned her upbringing when she came to Hollywood. She drinks, she’s had a string of boyfriends, and she’s starred in some movies that were violent or sexual. She has two children by two different marriages, and she thinks she’s happy. When her chauffer’s wife is diagnosed with cancer and he needs time to care for her, Lauren puts out the word that she needs to hire someone new.
Her assistant, Kim, finds Mark Ellege, a man who is finishing up law school. He’s LDS, as are all of Lauren’s employees—she likes to hire Mormons because of their work ethic. Mark takes the job, liking the way he can study in the car while waiting to drive Lauren to her next appointment. She would much rather drive herself, but her license was suspended because of drunk driving.
As Lauren comes to know Mark, she realizes that she’s missing out on a lot. Her party lifestyle isn’t giving her any peace, and she wants what Mark has, that calm assurance that comes from knowing who he is and what he’s supposed to be doing. Little by little, Lauren gives up the drinking and starts reading her scriptures again, and after talking with her bishop, is set on a path to repentance.
Meanwhile, Mark realizes he has some strong feelings for Lauren, but isn’t sure he can handle her former lifestyle. As she turns from her past and focuses on her future, he needs to make a decision—can he leave her past behind him, as well?
This book is a fun story which also brings up some deeper issues—when is repentance really complete, and do those around us have the right to judge us by who we were yesterday, rather than by who we are today?
There are some of the typical editing problems I run into frequently, but I found “Star Shining Brightly” to be a good read and I look forward to Mickelson’s next book.
(This book was published in 2006 by Bonneville Books.)