Synopses & Reviews
A child swipes her mother's ring, snatches her sister's nightgown, and runs outside to play "bride." She soon loses the ring, rips the gown, correctly assumes it's about to rain daggers, and runs away from home to find a better; family. What happens next is a summer-long journey in which Grace Townsend rides shotgun in a Plymouth Belvedere, and hunkers in the back of a rattletrap vegetable truck, crawls into a crumbling tunnel, dresses up with a prom queen, and keeps vigil in the bedroom of a molestation victim. There are reasons why Grace remembers the summer of 1956 for the rest of her life. Those are just a few. Through the eyes of a child and the mature woman she becomes, we make the journey with Grace and discover important truths about life, equality, family, and the soul-searching quest for belonging.
"Going on Nine
brings back those days of freedom for youngsters—and the restrictions related to class and ethnicity. Not much diversity here on the surface . . . but in reality, tremendous differences among families, differences actually much deeper than race and class. I like the way (the author) illustrate(s) these differences."
— Jeanne Warren Lindsay, author of Sunflower Days: Growing Up In Kansas 1929 - 1959
""Fitzpatricks high-concept treatment of revisited childhood uses multiple neighborhood households and parallel voices, past and present, sending readers to a community of mid-20th century, Midwestern, middle-class life. It is both intimate as told though the eyes of an almost-nine-year-old girl in the Wise Child tradition of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, but also universal as its reach and powerful insights extend far beyond the confines of these neighbors homes. The humor, pathos, and genuinely interesting ‘folks down the street make this an engaging read throughout.”
— Whitney Scott, Publisher, Outrider Press
"Catherine paints a wonderful picture of the 1950s through the charm of Graces childhood. The wonder of this little girl is that she learns empathy for others through hard lessons. The language, attitudes, and news of the times speckled throughout the story make the era come alive."
—Genny Zak Kieley, author of Green Stamps to Hot Pants: Growing up in the 50s and 60s
"Going on Nine chronicles a time of great change in America, as seen through the eyes of a young girl trying to make sense of her corner of the world. Charming, engaging, and bursting with colorful characters, this vivid novel will keep you reading long past your bedtime."
—Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, In Need of a Good Wife, and The Island of Doves
"In more than a decade as a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in relationship issues, womens and adolescent girls issues, Ive witnessed the devastating effects when socially aggressive school girls maintain their status by playing spiteful tricks. In a single powerful, authentic chapter, Catherine Underhill Fitzpatricks coming-of-age novel shows how the cold-blooded games of a supposed 'friend' up the ante on cruelty, until a tragic twist of fate turns the aggressor into a victim."
— Dr. Erika Holiday, Psy.D, co-author of Mean Girls, Mean Women
"I want my parents to come back to life and read Catherine Fitzpatrick's novel, Going on Nine. Better yet, I want them to have read it before I turned eight and knew for sure that all the other kids' families were nicer and less embarrassing. If my folks read through to the end—and I can't imagine anyone putting it down—they would know that I, like Grace Townsend and a kabillion other kids, learned my lesson after all."
—Judy Bridges, founder of Redbird Studio—A Writer's Place, and author of Shut Up and Write!
"Graces journey leads to the inevitable truth that things are not always as they seem. Reading Going on Nine, I found myself yearning for a simpler time when children played outside with abandon, and terrorism wasnt part of our vocabulary.
Congratulations to Catherine Fitzpatrick on a precise portrayal of Grace and a tightly written remembrance (that) makes you want to click your heels and say, 'Theres no place like home.'”
—Kathleen McElligott, author of Mommy Machine, 2009 National Best Books Awards finalist
"A sweet coming of age story whose heroine confronts life's deepest mysteries with plenty of heart and not a small dose of pluck. Baby boomers will be enthralled, as I was, by Catherine Fitzpatrick's exquisite attention to detail that makes the summer of '56 come alive in the form of an eight-year-old adventuress named Grace Townsend." —Marcy Darin, editor, Prisms of the Soul: Writings from a Sisterhood of Faith
"Going on Nine brings out all that was special about Brentwood in those days. Every family had their own story, their own hardships, and they helped each other through joys and sorrows. In a lot of ways Brentwood is still that way, still has the cozy feel of a 'Mayberry' type atmosphere, where families have remained over the years, and stay active in the community. . . .
It was a time when kids used their imaginations, played outside, and valued the friendships in the neighborhood."
—Dan Fitzgerald, president of the Brentwood Historical Society
A summer-long quest to find the perfect family lands an eight-year-old child in unexpected circumstances and, decades later, provides a medicinal dose of nostalgia to the woman she becomes.
About the Author
Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in suburban St. Louis. She is the second of six children. She, like many children her age, enjoyed summer vacations unscheduled and unfettered. After graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, she worked as a metro daily newspaper feature writer in Hannibal, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. In September of 2001, Catherine was in Manhattan to cover New York Fashion Week. At first word of the terrorist attacks, she rushed to Ground Zero and filed award-winning eyewitness reports. An account of her reportage that day appears in Running Toward Danger. A front page of the newspaper edition containing one of her 9-11 dispatches is among those memorialized in Washington DC's Newseum. Her book-length account of her harrowing experiences that week has been accessioned into the State Historical Society of Missouri archives. Catherine's articles, stories, and essays have appeared in The Vocabula Review, Prick of the Spindle, Sew News, Fan Story, Yesterday's Magazette, Reminisce Magazine, in three Outrider Press anthologies, and Lessons from My Parents. Her debut novel, A Matter of Happenstance, is a four-generation family saga that explores the power of personal character over coincidence. Like Going on Nine, it is set in St. Louis. Catherine is a board member of the Chicago-area TallGrass Writers Guild. She and her husband, Dennis, have two daughters. Their first grandchild, Lillian Leslie Gould, was born in June 2013. Catherine and Dennis divide their time between Chicago and Bonita Springs, Florida.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Grace
Chapter 2 Davey
Chapter 3 Dezso
Chapter 4 Melinda
The Popular Girl
Chapter 5 Carolyn
Chapter 6 Cherry
Chapter 7 The Blairs
Chapter 8 Missy
Chapter 9 Mrs. Pearson
Chapter 10 Charlie
Chapter 11 Patsy
Chapter 12 Benny
Chapter 13 The Zaldoni Boys
Chapter 14 Rainer
Chapter 15 Janice
Chapter 16 Cate
Chapter 17 Mark and Sissy Eagan
Chapter 18 Sally
The Shank End
Chapter 19 Neighbors
Chapter 20 Odetta