Book Review: Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah
This is one of those books that you can’t put down. I think it took me two days to read it and I only came up for air a couple of times. Thankfully the hubby fed the critters as I was just able to mumble incoherently every once in a while.
There are three plots within the book: 1) The nightmare of Doctor Julia Cates, a psychiatrist going through a lawsuit because of a patient’s behaviour which has cost the lives of several young people. 2)A wild child, a lost little girl, who finds her way into a small town seeking food and survival, and is taken into protective custody by the local sheriff, who just happens to be the psychiatrist’s sister. She must find her way forward through the nightmare of her past into a world she barely remembers. 3) Two broken women, sisters, face all the things which have kept them apart and kept them from fulfilling their lives through loving relationships.
It’s a mitt-full, but done so very well. I love the study of the human mind. Every since my Law Enforcement studies days when we got to dig into cases and study the psychology of the abnormal mind, I have been totally addicted.
What makes us tick? What causes us to arrive where we end up? What makes one human do inhumane things to anyone and anything? I think that’s the reason I am a writer, as well. It’s a chance to do what actors do, to live another life. But this time you get to experiment and search another’s soul to find out what motivates them.
It is not apparent at first, what has made this wild child wild, or even where she came from. It takes a while to delve into her consciousness, because first, she must learn to communicate. I’m an animal lover. My dog grew up wild, with no human contact except for gunfire and cruelty during his first year of life. As a result, when he came to us, he didn’t understand human language. Now, I’d had three other dogs but because they grew up with people they all understood English. So I had to communicate with him as a mother dog would with growls and barks, shaking of his withers and affection. I would wash his face with a washcloth mimicking his dog-mother’s tongue. That can still put him to sleep. Gradually he understood what I meant but it was a challenge at times.
So what do you do when the creature is a human with no communication skills? In some ways the book reminded me of the Helen Keller story. There were a lot of similarities in the methods used to reach the child and teach her to understand. Every success felt like it deserved an Oscar.
The other story within the story, the two sisters learning who they each were and why and what had been the good and bad dynamics of their relationship is just as important to this whole thing. Their history has brought them to the place where they can do something for this child and they are willing to sacrifice almost everything to keep her safe.
It’s a heartwarming story of perseverance, love, self-discovery and success. But it’s also one heckuva mystery which had to be solved. In the solving, the nightmare could be put to rest or begun again.
A worthy read. Be prepared with hankies and food. You won’t want to put it down.
Five stars all the way. *****
“Deep in the Pacific Northwest lies the Olympic National Forest—nearly one million acres of impenetrable darkness and impossible beauty. Even in this modern age, much of it remains undiscovered and uncharted. From the heart of this old forest, a six-year-old girl appears. Speechless and alone, she can give no clue as to her identity, no hint of her past…
Until recently, Dr. Julia Cates was one of the preeminent child psychiatrists in the country, but a scandal shattered her confidence, ruined her career, and made her a media target. When she gets a desperate call from her estranged sister, Ellie, a police chief in their small western Washington hometown, she jumps at the chance to escape.
In Rain Valley, nothing much ever happens—until a girl emerges from the deep woods and walks into town. She is a victim unlike any Julia has ever seen: a child locked in a world of unimaginable fear and isolation.
When word spreads of the “wild child” and the infamous doctor who is treating her, the media descend on Julia and once again her competence is challenged. State and federal authorities want to lock the girl away in an institution until an identification can be made.
But to Julia, who has come to doubt her own ability, nothing is more important than saving the girl she now calls Alice. To heal this child, Julia will have to understand that she cannot work alone and must look to others—the people in the town she left long ago, the sister she barely knows, and Dr. Max Cerrasin, a handsome, private man with secrets of his own.
Then a shocking revelation forces Julia to risk everything to discover the truth about Alice. The ordeal that follows will test the limits of Julia’s faith, forgiveness, and love, as she struggles to ascertain where Alice ultimately belongs.
In her most ambitious novel to date, Kristin Hannah delivers an incandescent story about the resilience of the human spirit, the triumph of hope, and the mysterious places in the heart where love lies waiting.”