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Number of Pages: 416
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 8.40 X 5.50 (inches)|
From acclaimed author Billy Coffey comes Some Small Magic, "a story of determination and love . . . that deserves to be read" (RT Book Reviews).
All Abel wants is a little bit of magic in his life. Enough money so his mom doesnt cry at night. Healing for his broken body. And maybe a few answers about his past.
When Abel discovers letters to him from the father he believed dead, he wonders if magic has come to the hills of Mattingly, Virginia, after all. But not everything is as it seems.
With a lot of questions and a little bit of hope, Abel decides to run away to find the truth. But danger follows him from the moment he jumps his first boxcar, forcing Abel to rely on his simpleminded friend Williea man wanted for murder who knows more about truth than mostand a beautiful young woman they met on the train.
From Appalachia to the Tennessee wilds and through the Carolina mountains, the name of a single small town beckons: Fairhope. That is where Abel believes his magic lays. But will it be the sort that will bring a broken boy healing? And is it the magic that will one day lead him home?
"Unforgettable. Evocative as memory, haunted as the South. Some Small Magic is big story magic written on the heart. Dont read if youre not prepared to be broken and awestruck at once." Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author
ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Willie deserved betterNovember 4, 2017ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 3Meets Expectations: 33.5 Stars
Our protagonist, young Abel (I believe he's possibly in his teens at the story's opening?) was born with a medical condition that causes his bones to remain very brittle and his spine crooked. This also leads him to have disfigured limbs that make movement difficult. Abel hates that his health problems cause his mother so much stress and financial strain. Both he and his mother try to live good, honest lives, Lisa (the mother) putting in long hours a local diner in their little town of Mattingly, Virginia, often working double shifts to just to barely make ends meet. Abel suffers through bullying at school but tries to make the best of it until one day he just reaches the end of his fuse and fights back in a rather unique way. Though it's well known who the main school bully is, Abel still seems to get the short end of the stick when the bulk of the disciplinary action falls on him.
One night, while he remains home alone while Lisa works through another late shift, Abel comes across a box of letters addressed to him that he's never seen before. He doesn't recognize the North Carolina address but when he opens one letter he finds the writer signs off as "Dad". Lisa had always told Abel that his father passed away when Abel was just a baby, but these letters seem rather recent.
Abel decides on a plan to jump the first train boxcar out of town, taking along his best friend, Willie Farmer. Willie, known to most of Mattingly as "Dumb Willie" (for being mentally challenged), is in his early 20s but has the mental development of a small child... and the physical strength of a superhero. Due to an unplanned scuffle with a local meanie, Willie is now possibly wanted for murder, so it's important Abel keep his friend by his side. Meanwhile, Abel is also hoping that the trip will lead him to meeting his father face to face and give him the answers to a better, more comfortable life for him and his mom.
Once on the train, Abel & Willie meet an enigmatic young girl who doesn't readily give up her name, so Abel, inspired by his love of The Wizard of Oz, names her Dorothy. Dorothy has something mysterious & special about her, and her utterances here and there -- such as "It was a mistake, bringing them here." -- clue the reader in on the idea that her presence isn't entirely by chance. *If you've read Billy Coffey's work before, you likely remember that he likes to play with light themes of supernatural and even touches of magical realism, so you can likely make a good guess of where the story heads from this point.
The perspective of the story shifts ever so slightly between our three key players -- Abel, Willie and "Dorothy". Coffey does an especially nice job of subtly bringing in Willie's voice. Without changing the rhythm of the writing in a jarring fashion, Coffey changes his writing just a touch -- making it more simple in style or writing words in a more phonetic way -- to quietly let readers know they've shifted from the thoughts of Abel to Willie (and back again, later). Coffey's way of laying all this out brought to mind John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
Willie is one of the most endearing characters here, drawing readers in with his boundless love and faith in good people, even when Abel lets you in on his friend's story. Willie's mental slowness? His parents claim it was caused by him falling off a wagon as a child, but Abel suspects the source is more along the lines of Willie's father beating and abusing him for years, Willie's parents treating him more like a burden / source of free labor than a beloved son. Abel's suspicions seem confirmed one day when Abel goes to Willie's house to find him chained up with just a small jug of water at his side, parents nowhere to be found. It breaks your heart and at the same time makes you think of Willie as the kind of soul too good for this world.
"Then you got ones like Dumb Willie. They're the special ones, Abel, and you know why? Because they ain't meant for this life at all. They're so tuned to the next world that it leaks into this one here, turning it all to a wonder they can't bear up against. You tell me Dumb Willie's pa is the one broke Dumb Willie's mind. I don't know about that. I think maybe it's more Dumb Willie's always been so full of heaven that he ain't got much use for earth. That's how it is for those few blessed enough that their souls point to other lands, but cursed such that they got to live in this one. Folk call them dumb. Call them crazy. But they ain't neither. All they are's closer to heaven than anybody else." ~Dorothy
This turned out to be my favorite of Coffey's books to date. The novel warmly touches upon the theme of family and friendship, the lengths we go to to creating (or at least contributing to) a fulfilling life for the ones we love. Some Small Magic also ends up being a nice illustration of just how far a little hope, a dash of that "faith of a mustard seed", can take a person in life. Key characters are living out hollow, painful, sad existences, punishing themselves for things largely beyond their control. Depressing as that sounds, Coffey turns it around, showing that no matter how far gone one's situation seems, there's always time to learn how to let go and live for joy again.
For those interested in using this as a possible book club pick, a page of discussion questions are included at the back of the book.
FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
Angela BycroftOwhango, New ZealandAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Simply MagicalJune 13, 2017Angela BycroftOwhango, New ZealandAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0In part grand adventure, in part grand allegory with a dash of good old fashioned sentimentality - Some small magic has more than a small amount of magic for what at surface level seems a simple adventure tale. But dont let appearances fool you - this is one story that you wont put down and forget in a hurry.
Abel is a young crippled boy who lives with his solo mum who struggles to make ends meet, living in their small trailer park. Abel wishes he could be of more help and hates to see his mother come home and cry herself to sleep. When he stumbles upon some long forgotten letters his mother has hidden away from his supposed dead father - he decides he needs to set out on a journey with his friend - Dumb Willie to find him.
In typical boyhood adventure - much drama and excitement ensue. But one small event means much more than first thought and one little girl lurking in the shadows of a railway box car will change their futures forever.
I found Billy Coffeys book both a pleasure and a challenge to read if thats possible. The writing style, while engaging also has a poetic style which takes more concentration I find, but rewards the reader with a beautifully crafted story which leaves one moved by the experience. I also always remember a book which can magically pull the rug out from under the reader literally at the midway point. Everything I had previously understood to be try - now wasnt. It was a clever plot device and made the rest of the book a real how will they sort this one out scenario.
All and all, I can heartily recommend Some Small Magic to anyone who is looking for a great read which goes beyond surfaces level and reaches in to pull on the heart strings.
Danielle Hull5 Stars Out Of 5Cheer for the underdogs; heartbreak and hopeJune 10, 2017Danielle HullQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5I have read all of Billy Coffey's books, and Some Small Magic was a hard read, emotionally. I haven't cried much, if at all, with his other books. His story-telling was, again, superb. Some people critique his books as slow, but they are missing the unraveling of, not a novel, but a story. Do you understand the difference?
I wish I had taken notes as I read this book. I have so many thoughts and feelings I'd like to share, and I'm not even sure how. I did share one quote on Facebook, so here is a glimpse of the heartache: "She loved her son more than love can mean, more than she could ever say, and so always found herself unable to express its depths. In a life defined by its failures, chief among them now is the worry that (she) somehow failed in showing Abel how precious he was, how needed, and how she would fight until her dying breath to keep him safe and well." #noregrets
Coffey again blew my stereotypes away. I don't do spoilers, so I can't explain that any further, but I love the characters in Some Small Magic. You get to cheer for the underdogs, have heartbreak and hope, along with a few amazing twists. Coffey was able to wrap it up much more neatly than I thought was possible, as my heart was still so tender. I ended with a contented sigh.
RobbyeFayeAnniston, ALAge: 55-65Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5Dark and Unusual StoryMay 24, 2017RobbyeFayeAnniston, ALAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3Some Small Magic is the first book I have read by Billy Coffey. He is a very talented and articulate author, and his imagery puts you right in the middle of the scenes. However, having said that, I had a difficult time reading Some Small Magic.
I fell in love with Abel, the son of Lisa, a poor, hardscrabble woman just trying to make it day to day as a waitress. Abel was born with soft bones and was constantly breaking one; also, his hips were misaligned, and he was smaller than most children his age.
I also loved "Dumb" Willie, so named for his slowness in speech and learning, caused, many believed, by his father crushing his head when he was an infant. He and Abel loved and cared for each other as only true friends can.
My difficulty came from the way the author graphically depicts the town bully's cruel treatment of Abel and the overwhelming amount of supernatural overtones, and some tough scenes of violence. I wanted to like the story; in fact, I read the entire book for that reason. However, there was just too much of the preternatural for me to feel good about the book. (Perhaps if it hadn't been from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan, I wouldn't have felt this way.) The only real reference in the story to anything of a religious or biblical nature is to a preacher that is a shyster.
I guessed early in the story, even before there were some obvious clues, what had happened and what the ultimate ending would be. If you like dark stories, with some redeeming qualities, you may like the book.
There are many instances of one particular curse word, and another one is also used. There can be triggers due to some scenes of graphic violence.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Fiction Guild and was under no obligation to post a review.
Cynthia4 Stars Out Of 5InterestingMay 13, 2017CynthiaQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4I received a copy from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to give a favorable review. All thoughts are my own. I had trouble at the beginning of the book getting into the story line. But I kept at it. It is a very interesting read. It might not be something I normally read but once I read it I was glad that I did.