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Beyond the Lone Islands

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Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Book Review: Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah


Again, a book I read - or rather, listened to, as audio book - in Swedish translation; which makes it hard for me to give direct quotes from it. But it's worthy of a short review anyway.

One day, a girl of about five or six years of age appears from "nowhere" in Rain Valley at the edge of a deep forest, together with a wolf cub. She can't speak and so can give no clue as to her identity or her past. She also seems terrified of human contact and lets no one close. Ellie, chief of police in the small town, asks her sister Dr. Julia Cates for help. Julia is a well-known child psychiatrist, but a scandal has recently ruined her career and made her a media target. She agrees to take on the case. However, when word spreads of Julia working with the “wild child”, the interest of the media is once again aroused. The authorities want to lock the girl away in an institution. But Julia is not only making progress with the child, whom she now calls Alice (after Alice in Wonderland). She is also developing a strong personal bond with the girl.

It is a fascinating story. How true, or believable, I cannot say. But symbolically, I believe it touches the inner child in every person who has suffered trauma and loss. It is a book about new beginnings: about slowly finding an identity and learning to trust and communicate with others again after being deeply hurt. It is of course most obvious in the little girl; but sort of parallell processes are also going on within Julia and the other grown-ups in the story.

Swedish book title: En flicka som kallas Alice.

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