Quick facts: published in 2006, one of her personal favorites that she’s written
Genre: psychological fiction
Child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates, escaping from a very public, professional failure, returns to her hometown, where she is confronted with a wild, mute child appearing out of the forest. Working with the young girl, Julia is challenged more than ever before not only in her career, but in her personal life, to confront her wounds as she helps Alice heal from her own past.
* * * * * compelling plot
* * * * * engaging and likable characters
* * * * realistic factor
* * * * clean factor – very little objectionable language, several mentions of affairs
What I liked:
Hannah switches between several point of view characters, including a young, frightened, abused girl who hasn’t quite learned language. I imagine this was a difficult task to capture Alice’s POV, but Hannah manages to very believably show Alice’s thoughts and interpretations and confusion of the new world around her in ingenious ways. The relationship that develops between Dr. Julia Cates and Alice and the issues and people threatening it, were heartbreaking, heartwarming, impossible to ignore, and impossible to reconcile. I couldn’t stop reading.
What I thought didn’t work:
One, I found Julia’s sister’s storyline a little extraneous and lackluster. Two, I know that Hannah was working with the constraints of creating a lively story so I don’t begrudge her this, but the success with which Dr. Cates manages to draw Alice out and teach her to speak would not be so quick and easy in real life. I studied linguistics and know someone who suffered from selective mutism. Alice’s progress probably wouldn’t have been this tidy in real life. (But it would have made for a much less exciting–and longer–story, so, good decision, Kristin.)
I discovered this book because I was looking for anything having to do with feral children, for my own research, and a friend happened to recommend it. This is my first Kristin Hannah book and it won’t be my last. A very pleasant surprise. I highly recommend Magic Hour.