2008-12-12 / Community

Lodico Delivers Another Novel From 'Beyond The Stars'

By Michelle Romano

"Once we have immersed ourselves in these fantasies of what might have been, the danger is that we may one day decide to remain there for a while and eventually become trapped within the power of its spell," old-time Rockaway summer resident Cheryl Madeleine Lodico opens in the preface of her latest novel Beyond the Stars.

Beyond the Stars, Red Lead Press, follows protagonist Winona Scharf from her home in the Rockaways to Cortland State College in upstate New York, where her world is unexpectedly turned upside down. Her new experiences alter her life's course and propel her toward a future she never thought possible.

When she reconnects with a link to her past, Winona learns about the depth, complexity and sheer force certain relationships carry. The power of relationships and their necessity are a recurrent theme in Lodico's novel.

Beyond the Stars is a heartwarming read that will appeal to nostalgic adults, especially Rockaway residents, and to younger generations engaged in the search for self-discovery. It's also a quick read with short paragraphs to break up the story and is loaded with dialogue.

While Beyond the Stars is a sequel to Lodico's previous novel, The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie, it can stand as a separate entity. The novel delves into complex matters such as spirituality, family, second chances and hope for the future. Through her two novels, Lodico artfully weaves the story of Winona's life, which is roughly based on that of Lodico.

Lodico's novels are also historical, appealing to history buffs and readers with a thirst for nostalgia. Set on a college campus, Beyond the Stars captures the essence of the turbulent 1960s and incorporates social issues of the time into the plot. Historical events Lodico highlights include the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

The story runs well into the 1980s, providing readers a clear look into life in the latter part of the 20th century, complete with its challenges, surprises, joy and genuine relationships.

Lodico and her family spent their summers in "the most distinguished rooming house" on Beach 63 Street during the peninsula's golden age. Her memories of endless stretches of beach, arcade-dotted boardwalks and riding the Ferris wheel at Playland heavily influence her writing.

While the Peninsula doesn't hold as strong a presence in Beyond the Stars as it does in The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie, references to "the old neighborhood" fill the novel's pages.

Since her stint spending summer weekends at the beach, Lodico moved to Whitestone and became a teacher in the Lawrence School District 15. After having taught for 30 years, Lodico became a full-time writer of prose and poetry during her retirement.

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