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To Come and Go like Magicby Katie Pickard Fawcett
Synopses & Reviews
And the stars keep on moving--
no one can tie them to one place.
--Charles Wright, Appalachia
*Leaving . . .
Momma's ironing on the sunporch when I break the news.
Someday I'll leave this place, I say. The glider creaks when I give it a push.
Where you going? She looks at me with about as much concern as if I'd told her I was going to Brock's store for a Coke.
Not sure, I say, putting my eyes on my painted toenails. Aunt Rose spent the weekend with us and polished my nails Hot Geranium to match hers. I imagine these red toes walking down some wide tree-lined boulevard in a faraway city. The where is not important. I've never been anyplace but here. How can I have a where?
People don't leave Mercy Hill, Momma says, laughing her you don't know what you're talking about laugh as she swipes the iron across Pop's white shirt, giving it a lick and a promise.
She shakes her head. Grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, she says, sliding the hot iron carefully around each button.
I don't care, I say. I want to see what it looks like, see if it feels the same and smells the same someplace else. I'm thinking fresh smells, like perfume and new-car vinyl and strange food scents in a city full of fancy restaurants. Not like here. Not like Mercy Hill's coal smoke and sawdust and fields of cow manure fertilizing the corn. Momma's eyebrows arch the way they do when she's trying to fill in spaces with her black Maybelline pencil. Grass is grass, she says. One side of the fence is as green as the other.
Momma does not understand that the color of grass has nothing to do with it, that all the fences in the world separating here from there have nothing to do with it. Leaving is all that matters.
Outside these plastic porch windows the winter sun is white-hot and the bare maples and elms shudder in the slapping wind. Dried-up honeysuckle vines twist and dip along the fence top, barely hanging on to life. In the spring Pop will take off the scratched-up plastic windows and slip in screens, but today the backyard is a blur. It's like looking through water or into a dream world from some other place and time.
*Then and Now . . .
A year ago life was hunky-dory, as my aunt Rose says. A year ago we were the right size for this house. Momma; Pop; my brother, Jack; and me. Three bedrooms, two porches, and a dusty attic full of junk. A year ago my sister, Myra, was married to Jerry Wilson and lived in Jellico Springs. Uncle Lucius lived on Sycamore Street with his young redheaded wife, Gretchen. A floozie from way back is the way Pop describes her. With Uncle Lu going on seventy and her not even fifty, Momma says things were bound to happen the way they did.
The whole world can change in a year.
One morning Uncle Lucius woke up and found Gretchen gone. She'd run off with a traveling vacuum-cleaner salesman named Vernon Wright. Uncle Lu still laughs sometimes and says, I guess I was Mister Wrong. Then he goes out back under the sour-cherry tree and throws up.
Uncle Lu didn't want to sleep at his own house anymore, so Pop and Jack set up an old, wobbly bed frame in our attic, and Momma bought a cardboard chest of drawers at the Kmart in Jellico Springs and put yellow curtains on the tiny
Told in vignettes and set in 1970s Appalachia, this novel presents the story of Chilli Sue Mahoney, a girl who has never been outside of her small town. When a new world-traveling substitute teacher arrives, Chilli learns about the world--and to appreciate where she lives.
In the 1970s, twelve-year-old Chili Sue Mahoney longs to escape her tiny Kentucky home town and see the world, but she also learns to recognize beauty in the people and places around her.
About the Author
Katie Pickard Fawcett grew up in the hills of eastern Kentucky and now lives with her husband and son in McLean, Virginia. This is her first novel.
From the Hardcover edition.
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