One of the things I enjoy the most about reading is finding new books and authors that are not yet well known. There are a lot of talented writers out there that aren't famous, who are writing and rewriting in order to make every single word absolutely perfect in their work.
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.