Thursday, April 06, 2006

MAGIC HOUR by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah, MAGIC HOUR (Ballantine Books, 2006).

When's the last time you read a good tearjerker? Well, put on the kettle, find a comfy chair, and curl up with Kristin Hannah's latest.

Dr. Julia Cates has spent years focusing on little else than building an impressive career as a child psychiatrist. When a client goes on a shooting rampage, the teen girl’s parents and the media blame Julia for not predicting the tragedy. Her career in shambles, she goes home to Rain Valley, Washington at the request of her sister Ellie. A strange, lost child has suddenly appeared in town and, Ellie, the chief of police, tries to help her. The girl is wild, cannot speak and has scars from ankle restraints.

Julia agrees to work with the six-year-old girl, who she quickly realizes is only terrified not autistic. She talks soothingly to the child, sings to her, and moves her from the hospital nursery into a customized cocoon, a safe space Julia creates in her own childhood bedroom. Over time, the girl responds to bedtime stories, trips outside and anything colored red. Julia calls her "Alice" after the famous story, one of the girl's favorites. Alice comes to trust her protector and even speaks simple words like "stay" and "no leave." But will she ever be able to tell Julia who she is and how she became lost in the woods?

MAGIC HOUR will appeal to readers who enjoy inspiring, heartwarming stories. It is not a "gentle read" in the strictest sense because of a peppering of mild profanity. The novel best fits into the category of "WOMEN'S FICTION." According to Diana Tixier Herald, Women's Fiction:

[(Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests 6th ed.(Libraries Unlimited, 2006): p. 494.]

Kristin Hannah began her career writing romances. Hannah has a gift for depicting human relationships, the ways people disappoint and support one another. In this novel, her 16th, she examines the ties between sisters and childhood friends. A gentle, romantic relationship blossoms between Julia and Dr. Max Cerrasin, the physician who first examines Alice. Like Julia, Max fled Los Angeles for emotional and professional reasons. But, the bond between Julia and Alice is the real love story. Both Julia and Alice are transformed as their special relationship evolves.

For your consideration:

Doris Dixon, Raleigh Branch Library

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A co-worker strongly recommends Sweetwater Creek by Anne River Siddons. Like MAGIC HOUR, it concerns a young girl who has often been left alone. Like Alice, she has an ability to commune with animals. My co-worker says Siddons' novel is real tearjerker and she enjoyed her description of South Carolina's marshes.
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