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book review: Magic Hour

Late this summer, I signed up at, a service for… wait for it… swapping paperback books. Well, any book, really. They don’t discriminate against hardcovers and audio books. Conceivably, those could be swapped, too.

if you prefer to own the book, you should hasten to this site.

Anyway, if you sign up for a membership and list 10 books, you are given one credit. The credit allows you to request one book posted by another member, and they mail it to you (they pay postage). When someone requests one of your posted books, you mail it away to them (you pay postage) and earn a credit. So far I’ve requested and received five books. I’m waiting for two more in the mail. I’ve sent six to other people.

they're not all perfect, but they're smell and spill free. and perfectly readable!

I’ve been pleased so far. Check it out if you’re so inclined.

Imagine that. I’ve been sidetracked. Good thing I’m not so easy to distract in the classroom. Sheesh.

captivating. kept me up past my bedtime, so i could finish.

The point of this post is to tell you how much I loved Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah, one of the books I received in the swap. The story opens with famous child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates being ostracized from the world she’s known when she wasn’t able to read between the lines and prevent one of her patients from committing murder.

Around that same time, her sister — ¬†hometown police chief and former beauty queen Ellie Cates — has her own unique problem. A wild child, literally, appeared in town. After hiding in a tree and only being captured by net and tranquilizer, she was taken to the hospital. When the girl proved to be nonverbal — and seemingly unaware of the usual world’s norms — Ellie called her sister.

The remainder of the book follows Julia, Ellie, and the wild child — later dubbed Alice — as they try to find the child’s family and teach her how to feel (and act) human again.

The best part of this book is the healing that love provides. Now I’ve believed in fairy tales forever, but I know full well that the world is flawed and relationships often fail. Different perceptions of life events — even events shared with someone else — can cause giant rifts between people. But this book shows that communication and honesty — the tearing down of walls — can allow for people to come together even when they disagree.

This theme is repeated many times in this book’s love stories: between man and woman, yes — but more importantly between sisters, between mothers and daughters, and between friends.

And, as the title suggests, there is something magical about the little girl who is the center of this book, Alice. As a teacher and mother, my heart flipped at her moments of learning and connection. And, as she made her way from feral child to Julia’s world, I loved how the author let her keep nature as part of her essential self.

I fear writing more because I want to tell you that the ending is happy and that the reasons behind Alice’s wildness are revealed. But then I would spoil it. So I’ll just leave you here: with one of my favorite passages.

Girl looks at Sun Hair. Holding tightly to her hand, she wants to look away or close her eyes so that if Sun Hair is going to hit her, she will not have to see it coming, but she forces her eyes to stay open. It will take all her heart, everything she has inside of her to think and remember and make the forbidden noise…

She looks up into those pretty green eyes. Girl wants to be good. She licks her lips, and then says quietly, “Stay.”

Sun Hair makes a sound like a stone falling in deep water. “Didyousaystay?”

Girl gives her the special rose. “Peas.”

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