This week’s book was a heartwarming novel with a dark underbelly.
Magic Hour takes place in the rainy forests of Washington state. Where a small town is turned upside down when a child wanders out of the woods. The girl is small, dirty, and carrying a wolf pup. The young girl does not speak, no one knows who she is or where she came from. From this small town nightmare emerges the chance of a lifetime for a disgraced physiatrist.
Julia was one of the most respected physiatrist in her field when an unforeseeable disaster struck. Due to the act of her patient, Julia finds herself in court, her reputation ruined. Eventually, all of the patients leave her practice and she finds herself with no reason to say no when her sister calls asking for help. Her sister being the town’s police chief is feeling just a tad in over her head. In a small town the worst she’s ever handled is a B&E.
Julia meets and falls in love with the forest child, who they name Alice. During her treatment sessions, the reader can see the clear change in dynamic between the characters. Alice’s treatment comes in slow incremental steps, and although I do not have a background in child psychology, the pace is believable. Gradually, the case isn’t just about finding the girls parents but also helping bring the child back to the world of people.
I greatly enjoyed this book. It was an easy read and enjoyable fluff. There are flaws in the story but they are east enough to overlook. The small town life is over simplified and the police work might need a bit more research. But everything moves the plot forward. I had a hard time putting the story down, finishing the book in only two days. I was intrigued by the young girl, Alice, and the dynamic created between her and Julia.
The writing is easy to read. Kristin Hannah tells the story in first person, allowing the reader an intimate look into characters thoughts and feelings. I believe with a book so centered on feelings this is important. She does change characters, but it is not frequent and I found it made the story more substantial. I especially loved how she wrote the child’s perspective. The young girl having spent a long time isolated in the woods, she is developmentally delayed, her passages are written with this in mind. Using simplified words and concepts to add the feel of a child’s perspective.
One of the more subtle threads of this novel are the results of the trauma Julia herself endured. Having been battered by the media for months, Julia is changed and yet throws herself back into the spotlight for this wild child. I also quite enjoy the mention of her own therapist, because that is real. I appreciate when books are honest and real.
My biggest problem with the novel is the discovery of what happened to Alice in the woods. It felt rushed, and while I can understand it was not the focal point, I do wish there had been more depth to the plot point. Trying to avoid spoilers, I was simply disappointed. Considering the novel leans so heavily on a main character being the police chief, these passages did not involve a heavy police presence. Instead, the crime scene had an inappropriate amount of family involvement.
The book has a heart wrenching ending, causing me to shed a few tears. I was heartbroken by Alice’s thoughts. Do not fear, as tearful as I was, the ending is fitting and satisfying. Overall I give the book 4.5 stars. I absolutely consumed the story and fell in love with the characters. When I put it down there was a clear satisfaction in the moment. I sincerely wish there was a follow-up sequel, I want to know how Alice fares as she grows up.
Stay tuned for the review of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini next week. The book is a New York Times Bestseller, by the author of “The Kite Runner”.