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From the Hardcover edition.
*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 window. From that attic window, with Jack's binoculars, I used to watch redbirds sitting in the bare winter trees along the riverbank. Now the attic's off-limits. My uncle has to have his private space to moan and stomp and talk to himself, shaking my ceiling so much the overhead light fixture jiggles with last summer's dead bugs in it.
If the changes had stopped with Uncle Lucius, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad. But next came what Jack calls the aftershock. My sister, Myra, showed up at the front door with a suitcase, saying Jerry Wilson had run off, too, and she had a baby on the way. All this news, the good and the bad, spilled out in one long breath. Myra couldn't bear to sleep alone in her house either, so she moved in with me. Now she and her round belly with the baby-to-be take up most of the double bed, and every night I hang on to the edge, afraid to move. If I kick in my sleep and hurt the baby, it could end up loony or something.
Pop says everything will work out in its own time, but he spends his own time working at the hardware store away from it all. Three days a week Momma sells dresses at Donna's Dress Shop, and Jack practically lives at the ball fields--football, baseball, track. Any field will do. Meanwhile, I get to listen to Myra cry and my uncle curse the dogs. Our two dogs, Old Tate and Foxy Lady, live in a chain-link pen with identical white doghouses. Uncle Lu says those dogs are better off than he is.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted January 17, 2012
I am definitely not a young adult, but I was thoroughly engaged in Fawcett's To Come and Go Like Magic. This novel won the 2011 Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award, given by Western Kentucky University Libraries. Fawcett selects her descriptive words carefully and wastes not. Her succinct yet lingering narrative portrays life in Appalachia in her own distinct style but akin to that of Silas House and Barbara Kingsolver. The plot development and interweaving of the lives of several key characters is realistic and not overly done. I look forward to more of her work and influence on young adult (and older adults) "must read" lists.