In 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.
I 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.
Some 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.
I 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.
** "(Spring's) always been my favorite time. Everything looks so dead and gone and then it all starts growing back like the world's been holding its breath and this is the exhale. I've always thought spring meant hope. Like it's God's way of saying I know you'll all screw this up again, but let's try one more time anyway. One time I heard that the definition of a miracle is something coming from nothing. If thats true, then I guess spring is the biggest miracle of all." **
Billy Coffey offers another Mattingly, Va., tale with "Some Small Magic," a deeply emotional novel full of shocking twists and a story of overcoming life's travails and bullies with a magical sense of hope.
Young Abel Shifflett is a boy crippled with a brittle bone disease, wise beyond his years. He has a love for magic and trains, and a deep friendship with Dumb Willie, a young man who is "special" like Abel after having been "dropped" on his head as a baby.
When Abel learns his father, whom he's always believed was dead, is actually alive, Abel and Willie embark on a journey to Fairhope, N.C., to find a bit of healing and belonging. After jumping a boxcar after a deadly situation occurs, Abel and Willie meet a beautiful and secretive young women, whom they call Dorothy. She helps them along their journey, as they each help one another grow and learn important life lessons.
"Some Small Magic" is a story full of plot twists you'll never see coming. Coffey deeply builds the relationship between Abel, Willie and Dorothy -- into an almost family-like bond. Readers will fall in love with the sweetly innocent Abel and Willie, encouraged by their blind faith and loyalty.
Besides being an interesting Appalachian adventure story, "Some Small Magic" offers so many gems and lessons. Major themes that trickle throughout the novel are faith, healing, finding the magic in life, and the sense of "meant" -- that things are just meant to be and can't be changed.
Coffey also reminds us that no matter how perfect or imperfect people's lives may seem, we all face storms in our lives. His story deals with the journey of keeping promises; seeing the light in the shadow; things aren't always as they seem; healing brought about by finding one's treasures; be careful what you put your stock in; and overcoming the sense that we are too broken to be healed.
But it is also a great love story, one that seeks the ultimate source of love -- God. As Dorothy tells Abel: "There is a love far greater, ever bright and never fading, calling all things back to itself. Calling all things home. And I wonder at that love, because it carries a depth measureless and beyond my reaching."
This book takes place in a modern day setting, but almost reads as a hill country novel from the 1940s or '50s, which gives it a certain amount of charm. It's full of small town, slow living life. It does feature some mild cursing and a few occasions of smoking and drinking.
"Some Small Magic" is a delightful tale that will leave you evaluating your life, and encouraging you to find the magic in each of your days.
Five stars out of five.
Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.