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To Come and Go Like Magic Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 9, 2010
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Twelve-year-old Chili has a burning desire to see the world, but “People don’t leave Mercy Hill,” says her momma. She is the child of a poor, tight-knit Appalachian family, so this particular dream seems even more unlikely to come true. Then Miss Matlock, the new substitute teacher and a well-traveled former daughter of Mercy Hill, enters her life. She encourages Chili’s wanderlust with books, souvenirs, and stories from far-off places while pushing her academically. But Chili’s mentor has earned the disdain of the townsfolk for turning her back on them. Brief slice-of-life vignettes piece together the puzzle of Miss Matlock’s past, slowly reveal Mercy Hill’s history, and showcase Chili’s struggle with growing up. Fawcett’s debut novel displays great promise. The frank prose is laced with wistful longing even while exploring heady themes like gender, class, love, and loyalty. Reluctant readers will find an engaging, lyrical story that excites their sense of wonder, and discover that though they may venture forth, home will never be far away. Grades 5-8. --Courtney Jones
About the Author
KATIE PICKARD FAWCETT grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky and spent two years as a social worker in Appalachia. She has counseled and tutored students in the Washington, D.C. area, written ads for Peace Corps and VISTA, and worked for the World Bank writing about development projects in Third World countries. Her personal essays have been published in several magazines, and her favorite diversion is travel and the different cultural experiences it brings. She lives with her husband and son in McLean, Virginia. Visit her on the Web at KatiePickardFawcett.Wordpress.com.
Top customer reviews
I love this book, and its gentle handling of so many pre-teen anxiety-ridden situations. The author never flags; my interest never waned. There was no temptation to skip ahead, nor were there unwieldy paragraphs which may discourage the young or reluctant reader. Unjust attitudes are squarely faced, and our heroine, Chili, never stops questioning the why's and wherefore's of those attitudes, and the past events which are shaping her present life. She is believable, and real, and by the last page, I wished I could know how things turned out for her! (Yes, she is a fictitious character!)
I hope we hear more from this author, and soon!
To Come and Go Like Magic by Katie Pickard Fawcett is a first novel for tweens/young adults and Fawcett has done an amazing job with her story. Set in Appalachia in the 1970s, Chili narrates her story in short vignettes, sharing what life in her small town is like. Fawcett has created a family of interesting characters who all march to the beat of their own drum. Chili dreams of leaving her small town, of seeing the world. Chili's substitute teacher, Miss Matlock, grew up in Mercy Hill, but left for many years, returning in her old age. Having Miss Matlock there to talk to, to share her adventures with her, makes Chili all the more convinced that she will leave Mercy Hill someday and go somewhere more exciting. While Chili's family has enough money, there are many people in Mercy Hill who are "welfares." Mining is the major employer, and there are no longer enough jobs to keep everyone employed. Chili's family plans on preserving the mountain they live on from those who plan on strip mining to make a profit. She is also curious about Miss Matlock's background and what led her to come back to Mercy Hill, having heard her parents and other relatives speak around some issues in Miss Matlocks' past.
There was a lot for me to like in this book. I loved the setting and time period. I loved the way Fawcett set this story up, using vignettes of Chili's life. I loved Chili's friendship with one of the "welfares," Willie, and how it developed over time. I loved the quirkiness of the characters. I loved the lessons Chili learned.
I so hope that somehow this gem is discovered and we see it receive some publicity. It is truly deserving of high praise. Fawcett has created a wonderful debut novel